Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele has said he turned down the chance to join Liverpool in 2016 and Paris Saint-Germain in the following summer.
The France international left Stade Rennais ahead of the 2016-17 season and moved to Borussia Dortmund, where he enjoyed a tremendous first season. It was enough to attract the interest of Barcelona, who agreed a deal worth a potential £135.5 million for Dembele last year.
The 20-year-old has since revealed the Blaugrana wanted to secure him back in 2016, although the Reds were also in the hunt.
"I spoke to three clubs (when leaving Rennes)," he told French magazine Onze Mondial (h/t Mark Jones of the Daily Mirror). "Dortmund, Liverpool and Barcelona. I had an appointment with FC Barcelona. I told them, 'For next season, it will not be possible. But the next time you contact me, I'll come.' And that's what happened."
Additionally, Dembele has also said in the same interview (h/t ESPN, via Football Espana) that PSG were keen to beat Barcelona to his signature ahead of this season.
"I had a strong meeting with Nasser (Al-Khelaifi, PSG president), he’s a fantastic president, and it went really well," he said. "What struck me about him is that he is very humble, he's calm, and I had never seen that."
Dembele was deemed a coup, even for a club like Barcelona, as he lit up the Bundesliga in the 2016-17 season, per Alex Chaffer:
However, this season has been one of frustration for the winger since his move. Dembele suffered a four-month layoff earlier in the campaign, and with Barcelona performing so well in his absence, he's struggled to get back into the team consistently.
Not only are Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi thriving as a front two, Philippe Coutinho's club-record arrival in January has made it even tougher for Dembele to force his way into contention.
But in the recent meeting with Girona, there were signs the quartet could work as a force:
Liverpool would've been delighted to get a player of Dembele's raw potential on board, although they haven't been short of potency in the attacking third.
This season, the attacking trio of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah have given Premier League defences a torrid time.
The summer in which Liverpool appeared to miss out on Dembele was the one in which the former of that threesome arrived.
As noted by COPA90, the Senegalese has proved to be an excellent signing for the Reds:
Dembele's career path has been on a sharp upward trajectory, and it may take him time to adapt to his new surroundings in Barcelona. While his natural talent has been evident for a long time, few would've anticipated him already being one of the world's most expensive footballers.
Between now and the end of the season, he has the chance to help Barcelona win numerous prizes. They are well placed to progress into the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League against Chelsea, are in the Copa del Rey final and boast a five-point lead at the top of La Liga.