SPL

Time Is Right For Celtic To Cash In On Dembele

 • by Thomas McIlroy
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When a bid for a player that’s more than double the record sale in that league comes in, it would surely be accepted and hailed as a good deal, yet nowadays that’s no longer the case.

Truth be told, after the Neymar transfer to Paris Saint-Germain, no-one is quite sure what any player is worth nowadays.

The world-record deal distorted the transfer market – £75million for a defender from a club languishing towards the bottom of the Premier League seems bizarre, but that’s the price Liverpool paid for Virgil van Dijk this transfer window.

All the talk at the moment is linking Moussa Dembélé with a move away from Celtic, with Brighton & Hove Albion being linked with an £18million move.

That is still more than the record Scottish Premiership sale – Victor Wanyama for £12.5million to Southampton back in July 2013, but it does undervalue the Frenchman.

Celtic will point to how van Dijk’s price rose from £11.5million when they sold him the Saints in September 2015 to that whopping £75million just two-and-a-half years later.

Dembélé’s asking price is reportedly about £30million, and you would imagine the two clubs could meet in the middle. If a fee of about £25million is offered, Celtic should really consider selling.

That would be more than double the price paid for Wanyama for a player who is undoubtedly an exciting talent, but he’s by no means the brightest prospect in the Celtic squad – that is surely Kieran Tierney.

Celtic are top of the Scottish Premiership this season and Dembélé hasn’t been anywhere near as key as he was last season.

That will be why his asking price has dropped from £40million last January. The quality of the clubs interested in him too says a lot, too.

Before, he was reportedly a Marseille and Chelsea transfer target, both clubs with European football, now he’s been linked to Brighton, a newly-promoted side, for whom success this season would be staying in the Premier League.

But the Frenchman has had a drop off this season, although he missed a number of games due to injury.

This time last year, he had 19 goals in 36 appearances in his first six month after his move from Fulham.

Now he has eight in 19, scoring in 42 per cent of his games, rather than 52 per cent last season.

With him only starting seven Scottish Premiership matches this season, Celtic have still been in good form.

They may have lost their unbeaten run, but they’ve only been beaten once and sit comfortably clear at the top of the table, eight points above second-placed Aberdeen.

There is always a risk with strikers that their potential could fall, and Dembélé has only truly had one outstanding season.

His stock is still high and if a bid comes in of around £25million, he could fund transfers of the level Celtic couldn’t previously compete with, even if they do sell him in January. That’s not bad for someone who arrived for just £500,000.

Their current record purchase was for £6million, with both John Hartson and Chris Sutton costing that much.

Selling Dembélé while his stock is high will surely be the right move for the long-term future of the club, allowing players to come in for fees that would previously been unheard off.

Another striker would surely come in to make up for the departure, meaning if he does leave, it would be best for it to happen relatively early in the transfer window, to give them enough time to find a replacement.

What’s more, if he is interested in a move to Brighton, a club of arguably lower status than Celtic, albeit one in a better league, it’s time to let him go and thank him for his service, using him as a template for how transfer business should be going – bringing in young players, developing them and selling them for a much higher fee.

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