After ten substitute appearances, Karamoko Dembele joins a long list of other prodigies, released by Celtic (or a later club) without achieving their hoped-for level. Unlike many of the others, Karamoko stayed, hoping to make the breakthrough here, but despite attracting global attention as a 15-year-old and making his debut soon after turning 16, it looks likely the London-born player is set for a career as a jobbing player.
Islam Feruz is just seven years older than Dembele. Chelsea beat off a host of competitors to sign him when he left the Celtic structure at 16. A career totalling 20 appearances ended five years ago with a loan spell at Swindon, remembered mostly for his conviction for driving his Porsche while disqualified.
The body of evidence grows that a player’s potential cannot be reliably assured I his mid-teens. Ben Doak (16), who made his Celtic debut, played in that memorable 3-0 win over Newco, then signed for Liverpool, has it all to prove.
Barry Hepburn, now 18, who left Celtic for Bayern Munich two years ago, or Liam Morrison, who we lost to the same club a year earlier, have it all to prove in Germany. Morrison has made just four appearances for the Reserves in three years since joining Bayern, two from the bench. Hepburn has made the Reserves’ bench only once in two years, but was unused.
Football is absolutely brutal when it comes to inflating and ending the hopes of young talent. A tiny percentage of those considered near certain to make it, actually do. No judgement on Doak, Morrison or Hepburn. They would have gone with dreams of Champions League glory and no doubt an unbelievable wage. Their next contract offer may be less attractive.