Former Celtic defender makes worrying Karamoko Dembele comparison

By Euan Davidson

April 23, 2021

Celtic are in danger of letting an Academy talent’s career “drift out”.

Former Bhoys defender Mark Wilson reckons Karamoko Dembele is in danger of being the next Islam Feruz, because he’s not getting the game time he needs. If you don’t remember Feruz, he was a hotly-tipped youngster who moved to Chelsea at the age of 16 [Nutmeg].

A prodigious, exciting talent, Feruz had been destined for big things. Unfortunately, his time in London didn’t go to plan, and he’s since retired to focus on a clothing brand [Sun]. He’s 25 this year.

He’s a rather extreme example, perhaps, but on Superscoreboard, the ex-Dundee United and Celtic defender Wilson painted a bleak picture. If Dembele, so obviously talented, doesn’t get the game-time to develop, his game might stagnate.

After a cameo role against Aberdeen, there are increased calls to play the winger until the end of the season. While Celtic have little to play for, there’s also no need for sentiment in the last three matches of the season.

Wilson told Superscoreboard:

“I’ve seen boys who have been held back because they have had a player of such ability ahead of them keeping them out of the side and they can’t get in, that’s fair enough.

“The argument to that, Celtic, in meaningless games, they haven’t had outstanding creative players that have kept a world beater, a potential world beater out.

“It’s hard to know, I would like to have watched him to make the decision ourselves to watch him and go “well, he’s not quite what we thought”.”

Karamoko Dembele had been tipped for stardom / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Mark Wilson on Celtic youngster Karamoko Dembele

Wilson continued [Superscoreboard]:

“We need to see the kid some time, hopefully he doesn’t drift out.

“I was there with the boy [Islam] Feruz. I played a reserve game with [him]. He was outstanding, he played in front of me but he went down the road never to be seen again… I just hope that doesn’t happen with Dembele.”

It’s a more-than-concerning comparison to make, but not necessarily an invalid one. Wilson’s slightly grim assessment is right: if he’s not up to scratch, we need to know sooner rather than later.

Dembele is just one of a number of talents in a precarious contract situation. His deal at the club ostensibly runs out in the summer (although Celtic may have an option for another year), along with Armstrong Okoflex.

It’d be so sad to see a massively hyped winger see out his Celtic career from the bench. With nothing to lose, John Kennedy is as well playing him for longer than 10 minutes. If given increased game time, he may agree to a new deal if he can pass muster in the first-team.

With no disrespect to Islam Feruz, he’s an example of how not to deal with a hyped young player. Karamoko Dembele can’t be another.

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