Barcelona, March 7 (IANS) Spanish football champions FC Barcelona are aiming to sign rising French forward Ousmane Dembele, according to Catalonian media reports on Monday.
Reports also said Barcelona officials Robert Fernandez and Urbano Ortega were watching Dembele this past weekend in action for his current club, France's Rennes.
Last season Dembele, then 17, scored 13 goals in the 18 games he played for the club's B team in the fifth tier of French football.
The recent progression of the young Frenchman, now 18, led Fernandez and Ortega to make a move before they get overtaken by other big European clubs that are pursuing the player's services, including Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea from England and Spain's Atletico Madrid.
Dembele scored nine goals in this season's Ligue 1 in 17 matches, including a hat-trick on Sunday in the derby match against Nantes, helping his team win 4-1.
Barcelona officials are believed to have already started negotiations with Rennes after that game to purchase Dembele, who has previously expressed his desire to play for the Catalan club.
Reports suggest that negotiations are progressing nicely and the deal will cost about 10 million euros ($10.9 million). (IANS)