Brendan Rodgers insists Moussa Dembele will only leave Celtic if the Parkhead club can secure a replacement striker.
Brendan Rodgers says Moussa Dembele (pictured) will only leave if Celtic sign a striker
Ligue 1 side Lyon are poised to submit a £20million bid for the France Under-21 forward
Keen to return to his homeland, the 22-year-old will only be granted his wish if Rodgers can find an adequate alternative.
In the market for a right-back, central defender and midfielder, Rodgers has lodged an enquiry for Stoke City’s Austrian full-back Moritz Bauer, while Leicester’s £13m defender Filip Benkovic and Manchester City midfielder Douglas Luiz are also loan targets.
Now forced to add a new striker to his shopping list for the final 36 hours of the window, Rodgers admitted: ‘The situation with Moussa is he had a lot going on.
‘Moussa, with his representatives, was at the club today speaking on the situation that has evolved in the last few days. So he didn’t train.
‘Moussa’s situation is that he came in here for £385,000 to develop and improve and become a better player.
‘The last couple of years there’s been lots of speculation around it but nothing concrete, in terms of an offer or a bid.
‘But there’s certainly speculation around it.
‘The whole sort of plan that I’d spoken with Moussa a couple of years ago, I understand why he might be thinking of the possibility of moving on.
Striker Dembele (front) has scored three times for the Parkhead club so far this season
‘The boy’s been brilliant in his time here for me; committed, absolutely first class, it’s never been an issue.
‘But, of course, there’s also the timing for the club.
‘It’s only three days before the end of the window and the clubs now have to deal with something like this now.
‘So there’s a lot to take in, but you certainly can’t let your top striker move on without even having anyone to come in and replace.
‘I thought I could work with two strikers in my first season here. With the number of games and competitions we wanted to be in, that proved to be very difficult. So we need three strikers.
‘So how it will evolve over the next three days, I’m unsure. But we’ll deal with it.’ Record signing Odsonne Edouard and Leigh Griffiths are the club’s other strikers.
Edouard, a £9m record signing, is returning from injury and likely to sit out tonight’s home tie with Sudova to prepare himself for the first Old Firm clash of the season with Rangers on Sunday.
Celtic boss Rodgers (pictured) wants reinforcements before the transfer window closes
Asked to speculate on the likelihood of Dembele featuring in either game, Rodgers added: ‘This is what we have to wait and see. It’s not easy. I have empathy for all the players and whatnot who are in this situation.
‘But what I have to ensure is that when the player pulls on the shirt there’s a total commitment to performing. If there’s not then it’s understandable, especially if there’s speculation around it. But, we can’t afford to not have that.’ Dembele’s compatriot Olivier Ntcham will *not* be leaving the club, despite Porto’s willingness to pay £14m to sign him.
‘There was interest in Olivier but we sat down with him and his representatives and talked through the plan,’ said Rodgers.
‘He’s been here one year and it shows the development he’s had with the interest shown in him.
‘We’re not ready to sell. When we took Olivier here there was a plan for him and his situation has come up a little bit early than what we’d have thought.
‘Him and his representatives are in discussions about a new deal so hopefully that could be finalised soon.’
Celtic bos Rodgers (pictured) is after a right-back, central defender and midfielder