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Can Celtic keep hold of 21-year-old striker Moussa Dembélé this summer?

Calum Pettitt

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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.

Calum is a Reading fan and has been a season ticket holder for many years. He is currently studying for a degree in Sport & Exercise Psychology.

Celtic

Celtic fans will be keeping an eye on £3m flop Teemu Pukki

The Finnish striker struggled during his spell at Celtic.

Mathew Nash

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Norwich City snapped up a new recruit this week with the arrival of Teemu Pukki from Brondby on a free transfer. The 28-year-old arrives on a three-year deal and the Championship club will be hoping he can find the form he did in Denmark. He scored 25 goals in 36 games for the Danish side last season and the Canaries will hope he can take them to the next level in front of goal.

For Celtic fans, his turn of form and recent deal are something of a surprise.

The Bhoys snapped up Pukki from Schalke 04 in the summer of 2013 after he had struggled to shine in German football. The deal cost a reported £3 million and he was expected to be a hit. He was signed as a replacement for Gary Hooper, who had ironically headed to Norwich.

(Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

On paper it looked a good deal but, for whatever reason, things did not work out for Pukki at Celtic.  He scored on his debut but soon enough the goals and his form left him. He managed just nine goals in 37 games for Celtic before joining Danish side Brondby, initially on loan, in 2014.

Pukki struggled to find the level necessary in Scotland but it would appear that his experience at Celtic has helped form him into a far better player.

Celtic fans are unlikely to wish he was still at Parkhead. When it comes to goals they are blessed with the talents of Odsonne Edouard, Moussa Dembele and Leigh Griffiths.

But no doubt Celtic fans will be keeping an eye on his progress in the Championship, as Pukki tries to crack the UK for the second time in his career.

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Celtic

He is not worth £50m but Dedryck Boyata has proved a point this summer

Celtic’s Belgian defender has silenced many doubters this summer

Mathew Nash

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Earlier this week former Celtic hero John Hartson received some ridicule after suggesting the club’s central defender Dedryck Boyata might be worth £50 million. While that is not the case and the Welshman addressed so in the Glasgow Evening Times, he has proven a lot this summer.

Which is why it would have hurt that he found himself dropped to the bench for Belgium’s lucky escape against Japan last night. Vincent Kompany replaced him now fully fit and Boyata did little to deserve being demoted.

He was excellent in the group stages, especially the game with England. He had Marcus Rashford and Jamie Vardy under control throughout the game and proved himself worthy of transfer talk.

(Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Boyata also helped to prove something about Scottish football. The game north of the border gets a rough deal from some fans considering the standard of play and football.

But there are some incredible exceptions such as Virgil van Dijk or Andrew Robertson who can go on and achieve positive things away from Scotland.

If Celtic receive a handsome offer based on Boyata’s World Cup displays this summer then they will no doubt snap it up. The Belgian has now done all he can to prove he can cut it away from Parkhead.

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Celtic experience makes Kieran Tierney perfect for Everton

The 21-year-old has become Everton’s main transfer target.

Mathew Nash

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Everton are currently being linked with a move for Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney. As reported by The Times, the Scotland international has become the club’s number one transfer target and will cost in excess of £25 million this summer.

Everton need to recruit a left-back, with Leighton Baines entering the latter stages of his career. Tierney, who can also play at centre-back when needed, has been identified as the perfect option.

Some Everton fans are however doubtful over the 21-year-old’s credentials. The fact he plays in Scotland has certainly not helped his case. Everton fans feel the standard is too low north of the border and it makes Tierney a poor target.

(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Why are they wrong?

Tierney has proven himself in one of the highest-pressure clubs to play for in Europe. The standard of football in Scotland may be low, but Tierney has had to play in front of one of the most impassioned fanbases in world football. He has thrived under the pressure and will do the same at Goodison Park.

Also, in European football, Tierney has often looked like the only Celtic player who belongs on such a stage.  

It is easy to knock Tierney as a Scottish football wonder. However, just look across Stanley Park at Liverpool. Virgil van Dijk and Andrew Robertson both made their names in Scotland and the pair are now two of the best in their respective positions in England.

Everton should not see the fact Tierney plays for Celtic as a disadvantage, but rather an advantage. He sees Everton as a challenge he has to take and arrives a fully-formed 50-game a season defender.

At just 21-years-old, those do not come around often.

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