Celtic need to stop hiding Karamoko Dembele; he's ready for first-team exposure

By David Walton

May 12, 2021

He may only have played just over 10 minutes, but Karamoko Dembele is more than ready to start being exposed to senior football at Celtic.

Dembele’s career has been the subject of much discussion over the last five years or so. The youngster who made his debut for the under-20s at only 13 years of age has always attracted attention. The sheer scale of his potential is outrageous, and it’s no wonder Celtic fans are constantly wanting to know about his development.

He would burst onto the scene back in May 2019 with a standout 45-minute display against Hearts when he destroyed Aaron Hickey. Since then, however, progress hasn’t gone as smoothly as we would like. Karamoko has only five more appearances for Celtic – all of them coming in short cameos.

Tonight was the same. An 11-minute outing saw Dembele get another brief glimpse of action. But this time, he would make his mark with a stunning solo effort.

Collecting a through ball, Dembele showed his pace to charge from the inside right channel before tucking a mature finish below Zdenek Zlamal to round off Celtic’s afternoon. Two years ago he would’ve tried to hold it up and take it with his left. Even in his cameo tonight, he showed he’s maturing.

Now it’s time to see whether Karamoko Dembele can kick on at Celtic

There were initial fears that his contract may expire this summer. However, according to the Daily Record, the player still has another year remaining. That’s also been backed up by Transfermarkt, who believe Dembele’s contract actually expires in the summer of 2022.

Therefore, it’s time he was a bigger part of our plans moving forward. At 18, he’s no longer too young to be considered. He needs to be given a level of exposure to first-team football that far outweighs what he’s been getting over the last two years.

Celtic have a major right-wing issue heading into the summer. We only have James Forrest available as a natural right-sided winger for next season. There’s a spot there for someone to play back-up. There’s no reason that can’t be Dembele.

Karamoko Dembele celebrates his first Celtic goal (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

At the very least, the new manager needs to take a strong look at him in pre-season. If he doesn’t feel he’s quite ready for more first-team action at Celtic, he needs to be sent out on loan immediately. He’s far too precious a talent to allow to dwindle in the reserves with no competitive action for the majority of the season.

Yes, being in the Lowland League next season would give him competitive football. But in truth, he’s ready for a higher level of football than that. Another year in the academy without a higher level of football won’t do him any good.

Hopefully, next season, we start to see what this highly-talked-about prodigy is all about.

In other news, Celtic Women produced a spirited performance against Glasgow City tonight.