Celtic winger Dembele's international future unclear as Ivory Coast name squad

By Euan Davidson

March 18, 2022

Earlier this week, we heard from Telegraph reporter Mike McGrath that Celtic winger Karamoko Dembele had been approached by Ivory Coast manager Patrice Beaumelle [Twitter].

Yet, Les Eléphants named their squad to face France and England in upcoming friendlies [Goal]. There was no sign of young Karamoko in the full squad. This only adds to the intrigue around Dembele’s international future.

Eligible to play for Scotland, England and Ivory Coast, Dembele has represented both sides of football’s oldest rivalry at youth level. He shone for both, but chose to represent England in 2019 [Talksport]. A combination of injuries and lack of opportunities further up the ranks at Celtic, however, has stunted his international development.

Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Beaumelle, though, was reportedly interested in Dembele’s talents. Having again broken into the first-team squad at Celtic, the pacy winger has shown flashes of the quality that made him such a hyped prospect. Out of contract at the end of this season, there’s no doubt interest in him will gather momentum, for club and country.

Ivory Coast, though, are not short of talented wingers. Arsenal man Nicolas Pepe, Atalanta’s Jeremie Boga and Crystal Palace star Wilfied Zaha are formidable competition.

Where this leaves Karamoko Dembele then, is unclear. He’s at a crucial point; were he to represent any country in a competitive game, it would be a pretty final decision.

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Celtic youngster Karamoko Dembele can choose one of three countries, and they’re all good options

From an incredibly biased perspective? I’d love to see Karamoko Dembele play for Scotland, having really made himself a starter at Celtic.

However, it’s about what he feels is right for him. He’s impressed for both England and Scotland. The Ivory Coast curveball he’s been thrown just gives him another fantastic option. To play for any of these teams as a full international someday would be fantastic.

The first part, though, is making himself undroppable for Celtic. That could be tricky, with the Hoops suddenly boasting excellent wide options. Whenever he’s played this season, since coming back from an injury, Dembele has looked exciting.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

So fleet of foot, with dynamite technique and a fearlessness taking players on, he’s got serious potential. Anyone interested in Celtic over the last 5 years or so know how good he could be. All he needs is some regularity, after a long time being between youth teams, or recovering from injury.

Either way, none of this is a bad thing. To be wanted, or to have been wanted, by 3 footballing countries is a mark of high regard.

Soon, he’ll have a decision to make. It’ll be a very interesting one indeed. We wonder if the SFA are paying attention.

Read more: Ange Postecoglou offers first-team hope to impressive Celtic B prospects