Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman may have inadvertently warned Manchester United off signing Ousmane Dembele by suggesting the winger isn't the most defensive-minded player.
United have identified the out-of-favour Dembele as a cheaper alternative to Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho, whose has £108million price tag on his head.
It's been claimed the Red Devils are eager to take the France international – who joined Barca from Dortmund in the summer of 2017 for a whopping £135million – on loan for the remainder of the season.
Despite falling down the pecking order at the Nou Camp, Dembele was included in the matchday squad for Barcelona's 3-0 win over Celta Vigo on Thursday night.
Dembele, however, was snubbed in favour of Pedri and Francisco Trincao – who Koeman played ahead of the Frenchman due to their defensive capabilities.
"If I thought that [Dembele should leave] then I wouldn't have included him in the squad, but he was in the squad," Koeman said, when asked if he was issuing a message to the World Cup winner.
"It was a match where it had been 1-0 for a while and there were tired players.
"I think that Pedri and Trincao are players who can provide more defensively than Ousmane. That was the decision, it was in that sense."
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Manchester United are said to have inquired about the possibility of taking Dembele on loan for the remainder of the season.
That notion, however, has been dismissed by the head Barcelona's sporting department, Ramon Planes.
"There are no negotiations with Manchester United," Planes said. "He's a player we're counting on.
"We know his potential and we hope he can show his best, with all the changes there have been in the team. We hope to enjoy his potential and footballing talent. I'm sure he'll have a good year for us."
Barcelona will be back in action on Sunday night, welcoming Julen Lopetegui's Sevilla to the Nou Camp.
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