It is inevitable that the rumour mill would take full flight during the off-season; especially with the new campaign just around the corner. Celtic have not escaped this treatment and the speculation has particularly centred around young forward Moussa Dembélé. The Frenchman notched 32 goals last season, in all competitions, and was a real star in Brendan Rodgers’ side that won the domestic treble.
The French youngster really arrived on the scene at Fulham in the 2015/16 season, lighting up the Championship with his pace, finishing and direct running style. It was clear to many who watched the young forward in action during his time at Craven Cottage that he was going to have a big future ahead of him.
However, Brendan Rodgers has been downplaying all of the interest in his striker – even going as far as to say that he hasn’t discussed anything relating to the future with the Frenchman, as reported by BBC Sport.
The appeal of working with Brendan Rodgers will no doubt play a major part in the decision making of Dembélé. Rodgers has experienced a very wide range of situations despite having only managed at senior level since 2008. The Northern Irishman has a pedigree for developing young talent, this knack presumably originates from his time within Chelsea’s academy.
For Dembélé, personally, staying at Celtic does make a lot of sense. There are few clubs in the world that at this current time would guarantee the Frenchman first team football, development under a high quality manager, European nights and the chance to win trophies on a regular basis.
Obviously, keeping hold of Dembélé massively benefits Celtic as well. The Scottish champions would get to keep one of their star men and if he continues to improve they can ask for an even bigger fee. Brendan Rodgers has reported, as per BBC Sport, that the youngster is happy at Celtic Park so it may not be out of the realms of possibility that he stays.
The Glasgow club showed they are in a situation in which they can compete with English top-flight clubs for signings when The Frenchman first arrived in Scotland from Fulham. Brendan Rodgers has no doubt played a big part in making Celtic an even more attractive place for players to move, in addition to the massive support the club possesses.
The former Liverpool manager will be hoping that Celtic’s board agrees that the club’s fanbase, high profile manager, European football and the chance to win trophies on an annual basis will be enough for the Scottish champions to really start to compete with Premier League clubs for the signatures of top players.
It may be the opinion of some sceptics that Dembélé hasn’t proved anything as he is playing for, what is easily, the best team in Scotland currently. However, if the Frenchman was to head south of the border and be a success, he wouldn’t be first player to do so. Virgil Van Dijk left Celtic for £13 million, back in 2015, and is now being linked, as per the Mirror, with a number of elite Premier League clubs in an ongoing transfer saga.
The situation surrounding Van Dijk will only encourage Celtic to try everything to hold onto Dembélé for as long as possible. To sell the Frenchman for even £20 million would be a massive profit, but the emphasis that Brendan Rodgers will be hoping to make is that it is too soon for the youngster to leave.
It is easy to forget that Dembélé is only 21 years of age, since he made his Premier League debut in 2013 for Fulham. The explosive forward is a clear talent, but at such a young age is still unlikely to be the finished product and working with a manager that appreciates youth is the providing the former Fulham man with the best possible chance to realise his full potential.
The ideal situation for Celtic is that Dembélé is as settled as Rodgers says he is, and that they can continue to reap his goal scoring rewards for at least another year while his value continues to increase. However, it will be the opinion of some that no one player is irreplaceable and with the heavily inflated transfer fees that are floating around at the moment, the Scottish Champions would be crazy to not sell up if a tempting enough offer came in.