Tonight, more headlines about Dembele. More stories linking him with a move to France. I guess the hacks have to send him somewhere, now that the English window is shut. These stories are tiresome rubbish, of course, and prove only one thing; that the hacks over in France are as heart-lazy and prone to making up nonsense as their counterparts here.
For the record, the official policy of the club, in public and in private, is that Moussa Dembele is not for sale at any price, to anyone, under any circumstances. Whatever you are hearing elsewhere, that remains an incontestable fact.
Celtic does not have to sell. Celtic does not want to sell. Indeed, there are talks underway with Dembele’s representatives about an extended contract. This does not mean he will never be sold; it means more money for him at the current time and security for the club somewhere down the line. It is, in short, a win-win for everyone and I expect him to sign it.
Let’s break down these articles for the nonsense that they are.
The notion that Celtic is “willing to sell’ has been refuted by the club itself, by the CEO and by the manager. Repeatedly. The notion that we are shopping him around is arrant nonsense, the technical term for which is “a barefaced lie.”
If we were, he would already have been sold to an English club for a nosebleed fee.
The idea that we would sell him late in the window, when there was no replacement lined up, is so manifestly ludicrous that anyone who takes it remotely seriously needs to go and have a lie down in a dark room.
These stories are based on two predicates; first, that Dembele longs for a return to France and second that Celtic has a critical need to move him on for the big fee.
First, Dembele will move, when he does, to the English Premiership. The interest from that quarter is real. He will earn less money in France than he would there and his profile would be markedly higher if he was playing in the mega-hyped football environment south of the border. It is his key to international caps and a chance at glory on the European stage.
He knows that, his agents know that and Celtic knows that. A fee from England would, in all likelihood, dwarf any we were likely to receive from a club in Ligue 1.
Secondly, the idea that Celtic is in dire need of money because we’re out of the Champions League is predicated on such complete ignorance of our financial position that it renders any story on which it is based as being without foundation of any kind.
Celtic is sitting on a vast cash surplus. We do not budget for Champions League football, and our spending in this window has been so paltry that we’ve got plenty to spare. Peter Lawwell describes our strategy as having “a long runway.” What he means is that the margin for error is factored in. We budget for European exit.
The facts on this are well known. There is no arguing with them. But the media continues to ignore them in favour of writing the worst kind of dreck, and I understand that in this case they are taking their cue from equally nonsensical stories in France. They, too, have their Keith Jackson’s wasting space in their newsrooms. They too have axes to grind, agendas to promote, clubs to bum up and a league to talk up.
I’d rather trust the words coming out of our own club and to common sense than believe a single word I hear from sources without sources. None of these sites is claiming that an offer has actually been made; you’ll notice that if you study the coverage closely. Yet they all make the same spurious claim that we’re eagerly awaiting one so we can bite somebody’s hand off.
If you thought the closure of the English window would put a stop to this nonsense you were wrong. It’s going to run and run and run right up to Friday, but when it finally shuts with a slam the Celtic squad stands to be enhanced, not weakened.
And frankly, the greatest proof of that is surely obvious; what club supporter, after the last two weeks, could possibly be expected to tolerate anything less?