It was a historic season for Celtic last campaign as Brendan Rodgers’ side secured a domestic treble for only the fourth time in their history. They lifted the Scottish League Cup, Scottish Cup and the Scottish Premier League trophies in what was a historic campaign for all those involved with the club. Remarkably, the Hoops also ended the 2016/17 season unbeaten in all domestic competitions.
However, the achievement of Rodgers’ side had a lot to do with the contribution of one player, in the form of striker Moussa Dembélé. The France Under 21 striker only signed for the club last summer on a four-year deal following the expiration of his contract at Championship side Fulham.
It did not take him long to settle in Scotland and he was soon finding the back of the net on a regular basis for the club. He played a key role in Celtic’s qualification for the UEFA Champions League group stages as well as scoring a number of goals against bitter rivals Rangers in domestic competitions.
He found the back of the net a total of 32 times in 48 appearances for the Hoops last season, an impressive record for any player in a debut season at a new club. His performances in the Champions League did make him stand out above any other Celtic player and he scored five goals in 12 appearances in Europe last season. Many will remember him for his two goals against Manchester City in the scintillating 3-3 draw between the two sides in September.
A key reason Celtic should look to keep hold of the 21-year-old this summer is because he will be very difficult to replace. Rodgers does have other attacking options in the form of Leigh Griffiths and Jonny Hayes, but neither offers the pace and power that Dembélé can bring to the side.
A number of teams are said to be interested in securing the services of the striker across world football. Premier League side Chelsea is believed to have tried to sign Dembélé in January, whilst Ligue 1 side Marseille have reportedly held talks with Celtic about a potential transfer in the last few days.
However, Celtic are still in the position of power as Dembélé still has three years left on his current deal at the club.
The factor that Celtic must take into consideration is that Dembélé is still just 21-years-old. This means that his value is only going to increase further in the next few years. They are reportedly asking for a fee in the region of £20 million this summer, but that could easily be doubled if they kept hold of him and he had another successful season for the Hoops in the upcoming campaign.
Whether Dembélé stays or departs Celtic Park will, without doubt, have a significant effect on their performances both domestically and in Europe next season. One thing that is for sure is that Dembélé will not be leaving for a while yet as Rodgers wants to be able to utilise his talent in Celtic’s upcoming qualifying games for the Champions League.