If Karamoko Dembele has another year left on his deal, as several outlets are suggesting today, then it’s obviously decent news, but only if we make that year matter. You could argue that Celtic has so far failed this player as we have so many other young kids.
I have said before on here that I wouldn’t be sad to see Dembele go because he has not yet contributed anything to the squad, but the flip-side of that is that he hasn’t really been given a chance to do so and in this he has much in common with other players at our club, both at the youth level and in the ranks of the senior team.
We have lost a lot of good young players in the last 12 months, and this is clearly something that we can’t sustain into the future.
There’s a lot gone wrong behind the scenes at Celtic in the past year, and it is clear that the absence of a decent youth league is part of this too, but I recall Jack Aitchison saying when he finally severed his connection with us that for young players at Parkhead right now the problem is that they see no clear route to the first team.
Of course, if you wanted to point to Stephen Welsh you could refute that … but he is very much an exception to the rule. We should be trying to integrate a couple of these guys into the squad every year. Instead we seem to be going backwards in that regard.
It will be useless having Dembele for another year if we don’t utilise that year. Make him feel wanted and get him to sign a new deal for starters; that’s the key thing, and if we can do that then we can really feel optimistic and see what he’s got.
Otherwise he’s just another player, like Edouard and the rest, who’s deal is running down, who has no intention of signing a new one and who we’re better off letting go now rather than kidding ourselves on that he’s going to be part of our long-term future.
We’ve all heard that he’s special and that’s clearly the case … but we’re not going to see that in one year, so the best we can hope for is that we tell him he’ll play a big part in the next campaign (and we need a manager to tell him that, of course, or that’s empty talk) and cross our fingers that it gets him interesting in staying a little longer.