(Reuters) - Borussia Dortmund has been mired in one of the longest and ugliest transfer sagas in recent seasons with talented Ousmane Dembele at the centre of the storm as the Bundesliga heavyweights face Hertha Berlin on Saturday.
The hugely talented 20-year-old France winger has been forcing a transfer to Barcelona for several weeks and has been suspended by Dortmund after missing training earlier this month.
Dembele, who has a contract to 2021, sat out their German Cup first round as well as last Saturday’s Bundesliga opener - a 3-0 victory at VfL Wolfsburg - while the Ruhr valley club rejected a first offer for the player from Barcelona.
Dembele’s behaviour has even irked some of his Dortmund team mates with Nuri Sahin saying should the player return to the fold, there would be discussions with him.
“We need him,” midfielder Sahin said this week. “But the boy is 20 years old and he is not doing everything right at the moment.”
“We will also talk to him and tell him our opinion when he comes back.”
Last season’s German Cup winners, who finished third in the Bundesliga and will play in the Champions League group stage, have said a decision on Dembele must be taken by Sunday with the transfer window closing at the end of the month.
Dortmund, after a similar transfer story involving last season’s Bundesliga top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and a possible move earlier this year, are eager to resolve it as quickly as possible.
The team want a second straight league win when they host the Berliners as they look to challenge champions Bayern Munich for the title under new coach Peter Bosz.
Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said any deal should be clinched by Sunday with his club having made their demands clear to the Spaniards and refusing further negotiations.
“If it does not happen by Sunday then the transfer is off the table,” Watzke said recently. He put chances of the move being completed at “under 50 percent.”
“They (Barcelona) know very well what we want. They can say if they want him or not. There are only two options,” he added.
While the exact amount Dortmund are requesting to let the player go is not known, German media have reported a potential transfer could be worth as much as 130 million euros ($153.30 million).
Meanwhile, Bayern will also seek to make it two wins in a row when they travel to Werder Bremen on Saturday.
Last season’s runners-up RB Leipzig, who slumped to a season opening defeat to Schalke 04 last week, will try to make amends against Freiburg.
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Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Christian Radnedge