Borussia Dortmund have held off competition from Liverpool and several other clubs to sign France Under-21 striker Ousmane Dembele from Rennes.
Barcelona and Bayern Munich are among the clubs reported to have watched Dembele in action this season, while Leicester City, Tottenham and Liverpool from the Premier League have all maintained an interest.
The Guardian even reported on Wednesday that Liverpool had received ‘encouraging signs’ they could win the race for the 18-year-old, but Dortmund have now confirmed his signing on a five-year contract in a deal reported to be worth around €15million.
“Ousmane can play nearly every attacking position,” Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc told the club’s official website. “He’s strong in one-on-one situations, he plays with both feet, is skillful, fast and is dangerous in front of the goal.
“The way he stood his ground for such a long time in the face of the numerous high-quality offers from all over Europe commands my respect,” Zorc added. “It’s not a given and shows his character.”
Dembele, who joined Rennes as a 13-year-old in 2010, only made his Ligue 1 debut in October 2015 but has scored 12 goals in 25 appearances in his first season of senior football.
Dortmund said in the statement they had been tracking Dembele for several years, a factor which clearly contributed to the teenager’s decision.
“Dortmund were after me early and always kept contact,” he said.”
“I can’t wait to play in the Bundesliga in front of 80,000 at the Westfalenstadion and take to the pitch in the Champions League with my new teammates.”
Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke added: “Ousmane has always given us the impression that his sole wish is to play our intense football for this special club in our unique stadium.”
Dembele is now on course to join Bayern in three years, because that’s how this works.