FC Barcelona V Benfica - Group E - UEFA Champions League
Ousmane Dembélé is out of contract this summer. (Photo by Xavier Bonilla/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Former Liverpool winger John Barnes believes the club should sign Barcelona’s French forward Ousmane Dembele.

The Reds sailed through their Champions League group to reach the knockout stages but are 11 points off Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table, and have failed to win their last three fixtures.

Dembele’s contract with the Catalan club expires this summer, meaning he is free to agree a pre-contract agreement with any other club. Barcelona are enduring a torrid season, having been knocked out of the UEFA Champions League in the group stage. Coach Ronald Koeman was sacked in the autumn and replaced by former midfielder Xavi Hernandez.

Barca’s struggles may mean the 24-year-old, who joined the club from Borussia Dortmund in 2017, is open to a departure, and Barnes believes Liverpool should put themselves at the front of the queue if so.

‘Dembele would be a fantastic signing as long as his fitness holds up,’ he told BonusCodeBets.co.uk. ‘I don’t know the state of his fitness, but his profile would suit Liverpool to a T: he’s fast, he’s direct, he’s skillful and aggressive with the ball. That’s what Liverpool’s front three are.

‘He’d be a perfect replacement in the short term for Mane and Salah. And both of them are coming up to 30 — Dembele’s still young, so even long term he could be a good replacement. That wouldn’t just be a stopgap signing.

‘I look at him in the same vein as Diogo Jota, who can come in and play instead of Firmino or Mane if they’re injured or not playing well. Just from his quality, Dembele would be a great signing.’

The former Stade Rennais winger has scored 65 goals in 227 appearances in his club career, and has notched four in 27 for the French national team, with whom he won the FIFA World Cup in Russia in 2018.

Dembele’s injury record will be a concern to any potential suitor, though. He has missed 102 matches since joining Barcelona with fitness issues including persistent hamstring trouble.

MORE : Liverpool request for Carabao Cup clash with Arsenal to be postponed due to rising Covid cases

MORE : Trent Alexander-Arnold calls Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy ‘world-class’ after Liverpool draw

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