Watching the Manchester City game in Ibiza last week, two things dawned on me as Dembele scored his magnificent second goal; the first was that we’ll never keep this guy long enough to see him become the fully rounded player he’s shaping up to be.
That made me somewhat sad, because it’s clear enough already that he’s going to be a major star.
The second thing I realised is that any regrets over that will be tempered by the colossal, and obscene, amount of money we’re going to get for him when he leaves.
Moussa is already a fan favourite, and I look back with great satisfaction at how the media has had to turn full circle on him. After his third goal hit the back of the net against Sevco, Andy Walker talked about how “unconvincing” he’d looked prior to that; evidence, if you needed it, that he doesn’t have a goddamned clue about the game. He wasn’t alone though. Other commentators had been sharpening their knives too.
In the aftermath of that game I mocked how people on Sevco media had suggested their own side had made the player “look good”. What nonsense. His performance that day was simply majestic and his perfect hat-trick – one with the left, one with the right and one with the head – was no more than he deserved. Against Barcelona in the Nou Camp, he started well but his penalty miss seemed to knock him a little. But he got over it, and how.
The signs are all there that we’re watching the development of a very great player. When Chris Sutton compared him to a young Didier Drogba after the City match there were no voices of dissent on the panel. The comparison isn’t perfect – everyone knows Moussa has a long way to go to reach that standard – but the parallels are there, and he has the physicality but the close control too, not to mention an eye for the outrageous.
On top of that, it’s not as if we lucked into this signing; the Premiership big guns, like Tottenham, knew all about Moussa before we swooped. It’s a credit to Brendan Rodgers that we’ve been able to bring him here at all, and if we’re able to keep him beyond the next few years it will be the manager, and a chance to make history, that seals the deal.
I think he can be at Celtic Park beyond his current contract, but the idea he’ll still be there when he reaches his peak is for the birds, unfortunately. There will be intense interest in this boy, and the longer he’s at the club and the more goals he scores – especially on the big stage of the Champions League – the more his value will increase to the point where we would be insane to stand in his way and deny ourselves the enormous fee.
I am a realist about this stuff, and if Brendan couldn’t stop Suarez from leaving the EPL for Spain we have next to no chance of preventing Dembele moving on to a bigger league. Yet I will be pissed – super pissed – if we don’t at least try to keep him here a while. He just turned 20; there’s no reason he can’t be here for the next three or four years, all the better to develop his awesome talents further and increase interest in him to the point where it’s a frenzy.
We got a massive amount of money for Wanyama, but I can’t help but think that a few more years in a Celtic shirt would have been to his benefit and ours. He would have wound up at a top club either way; what would have been different was the fee we’d have got for him, perhaps as high as twice the one we actually did.
Moussa will command the largest fee in the history of Scottish football when he departs these shores.
He ought to do so with an armful of awards and trophies, and the warm wishes of our entire support.
The day will come.
Until it does, we should enjoy him and the mountain of money that’ll be coming our way will ease the pain of his departure.
What a signing this is.
Talk about an absolute steal.