Brendan Rodgers has been in the Celtic hot seat for less than six weeks, but already he’s snapped up one of the brightest young talents in English football, by prising 19-year-old Moussa Dembele away from Fulham. Here are three reasons he’s going to be an instant favourite of Hoops fans.
He has an eye for the spectacular
Whether it’s a Tom Rogic thunderbolt or a towering Leigh Griffiths header, Celtic fans just can’t get enough of flair players. And Dembele certainly fits that bill.
While his slick strike in a 4-2 triumph over Reading in October 2015 was perhaps the standout moment, he’s a player who frequently goes for the spectacular – and sometimes pulls it off. In particular, the 19-year-old is a master of the defence-splitting slide-rule pass. Even if the opposition know it’s coming, they can’t stop it. But more importantly…
He’s a natural goal poacher
Dembele’s natural flair is understandably the usual focus when fans and pundits alike discuss the 19-year-old’s abilities – but that does a disservice to his potency in and around the six-yard box.
In a single week in April, he scored two crucial close-range winners – against MK Dons and Preston North End – with a pair of seemingly simple finishes. However, the teenager’s movement within the box is hugely impressive – getting himself into the spaces and reading the game superbly.
His 15 goals in the Championship last season were crucial in the Cottagers’ survival, as they finished just two places above the drop. Some youngsters might wilt under the pressure of keeping a big club afloat. But that’s not the case with Dembele, because…
He’s a mature player who works for the team
One of the major concerns in throwing a young player into the first-team is how they’ll function as part of that team unit. But Rodgers will have no such concerns, with the French star having proved himself an excellent and unselfish foil for 21-goal Ross McCormack.
Producing seven assists during the league campaign, he consistently bamboozled defenders, giving McCormack the space – and deliveries – to work his magic in front of goal. Chances are he’ll build a similarly instinctive and successful partnership with the outstanding Griffiths this season.
Celtic are 1/4 favourites to lift a sixth straight Ladbrokes Premiership title, and if Dembele can hit the ground running, it’s hard to see past another league crown for the Hoops.
And Rodgers’ charges begin the defense of their title at Tynecastle on August 6, with 3/5 for a Celtic win, while Hearts are 7/2 outsiders, and it’s 31/10 for the draw.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.