Moussa Dembele is reportedly one of Chelsea’s main targets as they try to strengthen their squad before the transfer window closes.
But Celtic are reportedly unwilling to even consider selling for less than £40million.
The 20-year-old has been a revelation since arriving in Scotland in the summer for £500,000, with 20 goals in 38 appearances in all competitions for the Bhoys.
But even in the era of ever-increasing transfer fees, surely Celtic’s asking price seems rather high.
What do the pundits say?
Indeed the view that the fee is a bit steep is shared by Matt Le Tissier.
The former Southampton midfielder-turned-pundit told Sky he thought the asking price for Dembele reflected the mad nature of deadline day.
When asked if the Frenchman was worth £40million, he said: “Only on January 31. Come the summer, he wouldn’t be worth £40million.
“He’s done very well and I’m a big fan of his, I’m not disrespecting him in any way there.
“But that [asking price] is well inflated because of the time of the year.
“I think given what he’s done already, if you look at other players that have gone for £40million recently, they’ve probably achieved a lot more.
“I think [Celtic are] putting a premium on him because they feel like Chelsea may be looking at a panic buy, but I think £40million is a bit too much at the moment.”
Overinflation in January
Le Tissier isn’t wrong when you look at teams inflating prices at January.
Not every buy in the winter transfer window is a panic buy, but many clubs are looking to turn around their season.
Obviously that isn’t the case at Chelsea, as they sit top of the table, but losing a key player would be a major blow for Celtic, hence their huge asking price.
If Chelsea were to sign Dembele for £40million, there would only be one other more expensive incoming Premier League January transfer – their own £50million deal for Fernando Torres.
But when you remember Andy Carroll cost £35million in January, maybe £40million for Dembele is not the most ridiculous thing you’ve heard.
How does Dembele compare to recent buys?
There has been no January buy heading into the Premier League this window that could come close to the £40million that Celtic are demanding for Dembele.
Gabriel Jesus moving to Manchester City comes closest at £27.2million.
While the Brazilian is a year younger than Dembele, he has much more experience than the Celtic man.
Yes, Dembele may have played in the Champions League, and looked very good indeed against City, but Jesus has already made six appearances for the Brazil national team, scoring four goals.
Dembele is nowhere near being a French international yet, even if he is impressing at under-21 level.
Both of them had no experience of playing in one of the top leagues in Europe before this month, and there’s no way you could justify Dembele costing so much more than the Brazilian.
Does Dembele compare to other £40million transfers?
While there have been no transfers above £40million in January in England, there were three in the summer.
Leroy Sane moved to City for £42.5million, while John Stones made the move to the Etihad for £47.2million.
Paul Pogba also made his world-record move to Manchester United, but obviously that is considerably more than the price being quoted for Dembele, so it would be unfair to compare the two.
Granit Xhaka moved to Arsenal for just under £40million too.
Is Dembele on the same level as Xhaka, Sane or Stones?
The simple answer is no.
Yes, Sane is inexperienced at international level, but when he moved to City he had 47 top-flight games in Germany behind him, as well as eight European appearances.
Dembele only has half a season of top-flight football in his entire career, and that is in Scotland, which is nowhere near the level of England, Italy, Spain, Germany or even France.
At 22, Stones had 77 appearances in the Premier League behind him, and had been an England international for two years, while 24-year-old Xhaka had been playing first-team football since 2010.
He made 42 league appearances for Basel in Switzerland –comparable to Celtic in Scotland – and played in more than 100 Bundesliga games for Gladbach.
Dembele’s 56 league appearances for Fulham – 54 in the Championship, two in the Premier League – and 21 for Celtic simply don’t compare in terms of quality to the other three.
Not yet proven in the top leagues
He may have the potential to go to the very top, and Dembele has shown throughout his career he has pace, power and the eye for a crucial goal, but £40million is a lot of money for potential.
The 20-year-old was proven in the Championship, scoring 15 goals in 43 appearances last season.
But he is a massive risk in the Premier League, so surely it is fair to compare him to other Championship strikers.
Scott Hogan has scored 14 goals in 24 games this season and Brentford have asked for £10-15million for the striker.
If you work out how many goals he scored per 90 minutes this season, compared to Dembele last season, Hogan comes out on top (0.39 to 0.58).
It is hard to justify how someone four years younger could cost £20million more than another striker who has a better goalscoring record at the same level.
In the future, Dembele could be a star, but on the basis of 18 good months at senior level – he only scored twice in 15 appearances for Fulham in the 2014/15 season – £40million at the moment would be a ridiculous price.