24-year-old now left out of match day squad after claims Chelsea have made an approach to sign him

Ousmane Dembele has seemingly taken another massive step toward leaving Barcelona and potentially joining Chelsea.

Earlier today, the Spanish side revealed the 22-man squad who will take on Athletico Bilbao in the Copa del Rey round of 16 this evening.

New signing Ferran Torres made the cut, but Dembele’s name did not appear on the list.

Why has Dembele been left out?

This exclusion arrives less than 24 hours after Xavi admitted he had become tired of the Frenchman’s contractual situation.

WAYNE ROONEY TO EVERTON IS A JOKE.

“We have been at this for five months now. There have been conversations with the player and his agent and we can’t wait anymore,” said the Barca boss in his pre-match press conference for the cup clash.

“Either he renews his contract, or we look for a solution for the player.”

Dembele’s deal with La Liga’s fallen giant expires in the summer and he has been toying with the chain of command over extending his stay for some time.

The 24-year-old’s current mouth-watering wages will not be matched if a fresh contract is agreed, as the club’s financial woes continue to weigh heavy.

Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Plus, there is intrigue from the Premier League which might be turning the attacker’s head.

Especially from Chelsea, who have reportedly already entered into discussions with the player’s representatives over a possible transfer.

Xavi feeling X-rated

All this umming and ahhing has clearly taken its toll on Xavi, whose concerns stretch far beyond the demands of one individual.

Dropping Dembele completely for a significant game demonstrates the manager’s mindset; play me around and I simply won’t play you.

Perhaps this is the exact excuse the £135m (BBC) arrival from Borussia Dortmund needs to leave the Camp Nou.

Photo by Xavier Bonilla/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Chelsea’s hierarchy might also use this moment as the perfect opportunity to pounce.

Whilst Barca are distracted by Bilbao, the Blues could sneak in and save the shunted-out star.

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.