MANCHESTER UNITED have received a boost in their pursuit of Ousmane Dembele after Barcelona prepared to launch a January swoop for Lyon's Memphis Depay.
The Red Devils had feared Barca would hold onto Dembele after their superstar youngster Ansu Fati, 17, suffered a knee injury which has ruled him out for four months.
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But Sport reports the Catalan giants will launch a move in the New Year for former United flop Depay, 26.
However, in order for the Lyon skipper to be reunited with his old Holland boss Ronald Koeman at the Nou Camp, cash-strapped Barca must offload some unwanted stars – boosting United's hopes of landing French ace Dembele.
After controversial president Josep Maria Bartomeu quit last month, managing committee president Carles Tusquets is steering the ship.
And the report states he said signings are possible but only if players are sold first.
United had turned to Dembele, 23, after failing to nab No1 target Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund in the last window.
And the Barca forward came close to arriving at Old Trafford on loan on deadline day before pulling the plug on a move at the last minute with reports suggesting he favoured a move to Juventus.
United could land Dembele for a cut-price £45million as Barca look to recoup some of the £124m they paid Borussia Dortmund for him in 2017.
Lionel Messi's side need to raise quick cash to repair their disastrous finances after news they must cut £171m from their budget to avoid hitting the wall.
Dembele has scored 22 goals in 82 appearances for Barca but has failed to live up to his hefty price tag after struggling with form and fitness in Catalonia.
Barcelona are confident of signing Depay as they have a good relationship with Lyon.
Personal terms are not thought to be an issue after the LaLiga giants first went in for him in the summer.
And with Depay's contract expiring at the end of the season he should be considerably cheaper this time around as the Ligue 1 side risk losing him for free next year.
Depay resurrected his career after a torrid spell in Manchester by leaving for the South of France in 2017, and has bagged 59 goals and 46 assists in 148 games for Lyon.
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