Report: Celtic winger Dembele appealed to Neil Lennon for more minutes

By Euan Davidson

March 25, 2022

When you watch Celtic winger Karamoko Dembele in full flow, it seems a mystery as to why managers, including Neil Lennon, didn’t give him more game-time.

There were rumours about Karamoko Dembele’s application in training. Also, his physical frame didn’t quite match up with first-team players, though in his position, that didn’t seem too much of a problem.

It appears, though, according to a report in the Athletic, that Dembele asked Neil Lennon to play more, after brief cameos at the start of the 20-21 season. It looked, for a brief moment, as if that would be the season where Karamoko really broke through.

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

According to the report, though, Lennon didn’t take too well to having his door knocked. The Athletic report: “After Celtic’s 1-1 draw away to Kilmarnock in their second league fixture in which he was an unused sub, Dembele knocked on manager Neil Lennon’s office door and told him he believed he should be starting more games.

“Lennon did not take kindly to a 17-year-old telling him how to do his job, and Dembele only played 11 minutes more – a brief showing against Hibernian the previous month when Celtic had 12 first-team players isolation after Christopher Jullien caught COVID-19 in Dubai – before Lennon’s sacking last February.

“American Cameron Harper was trusted to start in front of Dembele that day.”

Karamoko Dembele frustration for Celtic fans as Neil Lennon refused to clear a path

A few questions here, if you don’t mind.

Celtic were absolutely bereft of talent on the right of the attack last season. James Forrest was injured most of the campaign. Why didn’t Karamoko Dembele get more opportunities?

If he wasn’t getting picked due to a perceived lack of application, why did John Kennedy play him when became interim manager?

And why is knocking on the manager’s door a bad thing?

Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Nobody is suggesting that Karamoko Dembele alone would’ve saved us last season, Celtic had problems all over the place.

However, blunting Ryan Christie’s edge by playing him on the right caused a real imbalance in midfield. We didn’t look creative enough for the majority of the season. Dembele developing on that right side with regular game-time could’ve been so useful.

It’s beyond frustrating. Luckily, Dembele extended his contract for another year. What if he doesn’t this time, though? And how much further along could he be if he’d been given more Celtic chances in 20-21? It baffles that he was being picked for England youth duty, alongside some of the most talented young players in the world.

Yet, his Celtic path was blocked.

Even with Liel Abada and James Forrest patrolling the right flank, Dembele’s potential has been spoken about for years. It’s time to use him or lose him.

The next few months could be pivotal for the mega-hyped winger.

Read more: Ange Postecoglou on the fantastic motivation for Celtic January signing