Dembele turns 31 in July and after his eighth season in English football, he is interested in trying a new league this summer. There are likely to be fresh offers from China and Serie A for him, with China currently thought to be the likeliest destination.
Belgium international Dembele, signed from Fulham in 2012, has just one year left on his Spurs contract and has not agreed a new deal. As reported by the Daily Mirror this morning, Tottenham would now listen to offers for Dembele this summer. Although they would still want a significant transfer fee for a player they signed for £15m six years ago, a fee that would be easier for a Chinese club to pay than an Italian one.
Mauricio Pochettino remains a huge fan of Dembele, repeatedly hailing him as a “genius” this season and saying he was on a level with Ronaldinho and Diego Maradona as the most talented player he has ever worked with.
After a slow start to the season, Dembele has produced some performances of his usual technical and muscular brilliance, especially in home league wins against Arsenal and Manchester United.
But Dembele has only been fit enough to start 20 of Spurs’ 33 Premier League games this season. He decided with the club that he would know at the end of this year if he was fit enough to play next season, the first in the new White Hart Lane, in Pochettino’s system.
With one month of the season left, Dembele is close to deciding that the physical demands of playing in midfield for Spurs mean that it is time to leave. The prospect of a longer and more lucrative contract in China than he would get from Spurs is also naturally part of his thinking.
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If Dembele does leave it would deprive Spurs of their midfield lynchpin and one of the most improved players of the Pochettino era. It would also force Spurs into the transfer market this summer, with Fernando Llorente, Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose also facing potential departures and Erik Lamela going into the last year of his contract. Moussa Sissoko, however, is expected to stay after impressing Pochettino with his attitude this season.