Aubameyang on Dembele's Barcelona future: 'I hope with all my heart he stays'

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hopes "with all my heart" that Ousmane Dembele will sign a new deal to stay on at Barcelona.

Dembele is into the final few weeks of his contract and has been widely tipped to join another club as a free agent.

The France international was told publicly to leave Barca by the club during the January transfer window after talks over fresh terms broke down.

But after initially being shut out of the side, Dembele has forced his way back in and has been a consistent performer for the Blaugrana over the past four months.

Indeed, after setting up two goals in Tuesday's 3-1 win over Celta Vigo, Dembele has now assisted a LaLiga-high 13 goals this season.

That includes 11 assists alone since the turn of the year, which is two more than former team-mate Lionel Messi as the most across Europe's top five divisions in 2022.

Aubameyang profited from another of those assists against Celta and has called on Dembele, who he also linked up with at Borussia Dortmund, to remain at Camp Nou.

"He is my little brother," Aubameyang told Movistar+. "We have been together for a long time, from the first day he arrived at Dortmund.

"Over time we have built up this sibling relationship. That's why I love him so much.

"He's doing very well now and I am very happy for him. I hope with all my heart that he stays."

Dembele is one of three French players since 2006-07 to have provided 13 or more assists in a single season across Europe's top five leagues, along with Kylian Mbappe and Christopher Nkunku.

Ousmane Dembele has 11 assists in 2022
Ousmane Dembele has 11 assists in 2022

Aubameyang scored twice for Barca after Memphis Depay had earlier opened the scoring, before Iago Aspas' strike seemingly gave Celta a route back into the match.

That was Aspas' 10th goal in 15 LaLiga games against Barcelona, a tally that only Diego Forlan can match against the Catalan giants in the competition this century.

But Jeison Murillo was dismissed for a foul on Depay and Barca saw out the win, albeit one that was overshadowed by a sickening head injury sustained by Ronald Araujo.

Barca have now won three in a row to all but seal second place in LaLiga, though head coach Xavi was left with mixed feelings as his side were not at their best.

"We didn't play a good game, yet we still got the three points," he said. "The feeling is not overly good. We have to understand what each game requires.

"It was hard for us to understand that we had an extra man. We lacked the neatness that we have asked so much for. But we were effective and continue to fight for second."

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