Scott Sinclair has urged Moussa Dembele to carefully consider the timing of any prospective, and ultimately inevitable, move away from Celtic.
The 20-year-old Frenchman’s reputation has been enhanced this season given the manner of his performances for Celtic, both domestically and in the UEFA Champions League, with Dembele scoring 16 times for the Parkhead side. He also netted a brace this week for the French under-21 side in their 3-2 defeat of England.
Dembele has been watched by scouts from elite level European and Premiership clubs with Sinclair acknowledging the temptation to go when his name is topping the wanted lists. Manchester United, Arsenal and PSG have all been noted as having a genuine interest in the striker and it will be case of when rather than if the player, whom Celtic signed for just £500k this summer, heads elsewhere.
“Moussa could stay here and get another 150 games under his belt and then leave but football doesn’t always work out like that – in two years’ time there could be another Moussa somewhere else,” opinioned Sinclair.
The Celtic winger has some experience of the bright young thing whose star waned. The 27-year-old’s 2012 move from Swansea to Manchester City soured when couldn’t get significant game time and it was a similar story too when he moved onto Aston Villa.
Inevitably, he has told Dembele to give cautious consideration to what his next step will be when the time comes to move on.
Brendan Rodgers has maintained that Dembele would be best served by staying in Scotland for at least two seasons, but if there is a bidding war for his signature it would realistically be very difficult for Celtic to hang onto the striker.
“Sometimes, when you’re younger, your vision is to play for a Real Madrid or Barcelona or another massive club but, by going there, you might find that your game time is limited,” said Sinclair.
“When that happens you need to be able to deal with the fact that aren’t playing every week. Right now Moussa is playing every week and he’s taking part in the Champions League as well.
“That’s the choice he’s got to make. Everyone’s choices are different and everyone’s experiences are different so I’m not saying that, if he did go to one of those big clubs, it wouldn’t work out for him.
“Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. When the time comes, if a manager wants you and says he’ll play you then you can go but football isn’t as black and white as that.
“It’s one of those things. I think he just needs to enjoy his time here as much as he can and, when the time comes and he has the chance to move on, the decision will be up to him – whether to go elsewhere and not get as many games or stay here and be a regular.”
Dembele has been praised by Rodgers for having both the required temperament for the big occasion but for also been able to see the long-term picture. And it is the striker’s attitude and commitment to reach his full potential that has been noted by Sinclair who watched with interest when the striker started this season on the bench behind Leigh Griffiths.
“He has the proper attitude,” he said. “There were a few games when he was left on the bench and every player wants to be on the field but he kept working hard and waited for the opportunity and, in the end, he got it.
“I hope he stays here for a lot longer. He’s only 20 so, for him, it’s all about development. All he can do is keep on playing well and scoring. He’s scoring big goals in big games and that’s what you want to be doing as a striker.”
Meanwhile, Sinclair was also willing to hypothesise on what Steven Gerrard would bring to Celtic after the former Liverpool captain formally announced his decision to quit LA Galaxy. While it remains unlikely that Gerrard, currently believed to earn a six-figure sum in the MLS, would be a plausible target for Celtic, the bookies this week moved to shorten his odds of pitching up in Glasgow, something that enthused Sinclair.
“He is a world-class player,” he said. “For me a player of this calibre coming into this club would be unbelievable for the fans and everyone around Celtic and for the players to look up to him and for the young players to learn from him.
“I think any player coming here would get a buzz. Everyone I speak to can’t believe what Celtic Park is like on a Tuesday night.”