Thomas Tuchel has been quizzed on Chelsea’s reported interest in Ousmane Dembele after a player he knows well was told that he can complete a January transfer away from Barcelona.
The World Cup-winning France international had generated plenty of exit talk in the lead-up to the winter window, with his contract at Camp Nou running down towards free agency this summer.
With no extension agreed, and there no desire on the part of the 24-year-old winger to continue talks, the path has been cleared for him to take on a new challenge.
What has been said?
Chelsea are said to be among Dembele’s suitors, with Tuchel saying of a player he previously worked with at Borussia Dortmund: "He’s a very good player, and I am very fortunate to have trained him in my time at Dortmund. It was only one year, it should have been longer, but I needed to leave and he decided to leave.
"We are not in close contact, we have met here and there because of his duties for the French national team when I was in Paris. We exchanged some messages.
"I have absolutely no idea why he is in this situation, I don’t know the detail, so it’s better not to talk."
Who else has been linked with Dembele?
Along with Chelsea, a number of other Premier League sides are said to have their sights set on Dembele.
He has been linked with Newcastle in the recent past, as the Magpies piece together ambitious plans under new owners, while talk of interest from Manchester United and Liverpool is never far away.
Barcelona have said of their plans for the Frenchman, with head coach Xavi telling reporters: “The message is clear. Ousmane Dembele has to sign a new contract or we find a way to sell him in January. No other way.
"What I can say is that we are making a difficult decision. If he does not renew, the club has decided that they will make a decision. We have waited a long time, we have been in talks with him for five months. Either he renews or a solution is sought.
"I've been very honest with him, it's not an easy situation. All or nothing. We feel bad, but what comes first are the interests of the club. It is not contemplated that he stays in the stands. I have been very clear with Ousmane."
Why not pick your team for this matchday and play with SPITCH - a live fantasy football manager platform where users can enter fantasy football contests and win real money.
SPITCH rewards you and your friends for selecting a fantasy squad for each new match day.
Any other business at Chelsea?
While Barca are preparing to part with one of their contract rebels, Chelsea are still hoping that Antonio Rudiger can be talked into signing fresh terms at Stamford Bridge.
The Germany international is still holding out for now, as the likes of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich begin to circle, but Tuchel believes a fellow countryman can be convinced to stay put.
He said when asked for an update on the long-running Rudiger saga: “You know how I was full of praise for him, how important he is, I have said many times. Talks and negotiations are ongoing.”
Chelsea, who have booked their place in the Carabao Cup final, will be looking to snap a four-game winless run in the Premier League when they play host to old adversaries and fellow top-four hopefuls Tottenham on Sunday.