Why Karamoko Dembele's Celtic contract is now a matter of urgency
Celtic have a host of priorities to get through in the January transfer window, but it’s absolutely vital the contract issue surrounding Karamoko Dembele is sorted sooner rather than later.
Whisper it quietly, but Dembele has crept into the final 6 months of his Parkhead deal. Indeed, the England youth international can now therefore speak to other clubs about a potential free transfer in the summer. Unthinkable given the undoubted potential the 18-year-old has.
Dembele has been out of action since pre-season when he broke his ankle against Bristol City in an ugly incident. He’s since undergone surgery and is currently undergoing a substantial period of rehab.
Football Scotland reported last week that the tricky winger has been building up his fitness and will join first-team training this week. That’s a major boost for the player and the club, with Karamoko hopefully becoming available for selection in early 2022.
But as promising as that is when it comes to right-wing depth, it means his stock will grow once more. Clubs will become more aware of his exploits over the next few months, and that will undoubtedly lead to increased interest in his services this summer.
Remember, he was being linked with the likes of Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal before he even made any sort of impact in the first-team [Scottish Sun]. Therefore, if he’s available on a free transfer, there will be plenty of interested parties given the low-risk nature of any deal.
Karamoko Dembele close to a return, but is his time at Celtic almost up?
What’s worrying here is that there’s been very little sign that his contract will be extended. You have to imagine this will be down to the player more than anything. Because surely, if there’s a deal to be done with a talent as potential-packed as this one, it would be long signed and sealed by now.
Dembele has never really come out and committed himself to the club for the long-term. It was a relief last season when John Kennedy revealed his deal was up in 2022 and not 2021, but we’re now getting into the same position now that we were in a year ago.
You have to imagine that the next couple of months will tell us a lot about where Dembele views himself. If he’s here for the foreseeable future, Ange Postecoglou will almost certainly include him in his first-team plans. Especially during the title run-in. If he refuses to commit, surely he won’t be prioritised over the likes of Liel Abada and James Forrest.
But let’s not kid ourselves either, this isn’t the position Celtic will have wanted to be in. You don’t let a talent like Dembele receive the opportunity to talk to other clubs. Not with the global interest in his career that he’s had from such a young age.
There’s something about this situation that just doesn’t feel right from a Celtic fan’s perspective. We’re at the stage now where this is a matter of real urgency. If we’re getting into the final couple of months of the season with no update, his exit will sadly look inevitable.
The frustration is we simply don’t know where the player’s head is at here. Hopefully that becomes clearer in the coming weeks as his first-team return beckons.