BRENDAN RODGERS has a five-year plan for Celtic’s teenage sensation Karamoko Dembele.
The Hoops’ youth chief Chris McCart revealed his gaffer’s blueprint and insisted the club will not repeat mistakes from the past.
Dembele, 15, signed his first professional deal with the champions last month which will keep him at Parkhead until 2021.
The attacking midfielder is already halfway through Rodgers’ outline to break into the first team and McCart has been tasked with nurturing the gifted youngster through the process.
It’s a similar situation the club had with Islam Feruz who had been at Celtic since the age of 11, but quit for Chelsea eight years ago without making a first team appearance.
The Somalia-born striker rejected a professional contract in favour of a switch to Stamford Bridge and McCart is adamant the same mistake will not be made with Demebele.
He said: “We learnt a lot when Islam left to go to Chelsea.
“The club got well compensated, but we don’t want that with Karamoko, whether it’s millions.
“It’s about development and we want to see them go all the way to the first team. We had Peter Lawwell get involved from an early stage, we had every manager get involved from an early stage.
A RARE SIGHTING…Islam Feruz in a Celtic shirt during a testimonial game.
“Brendan Rodgers actually put a five-year plan together for him. We’re two-and-a-half years in to that plan and more or less every box has been ticked, which Brendan had said to him when he met him and his family.”
Dembele has represented Scotland and England at youth level and has still to make up his mind where his international future lies.
McCart is confident the youngster has the mentality to make the right decisions and added: “He’s allowed one more change. That’s why he didn’t play with Scotland in the Victory Shield.
“He wanted to try and be fair and leave that opportunity for other young Scottish players. But, hopefully, we can convince him that he should be choosing Scotland.
“And certainly, from a club perspective, we want him to be playing with Scotland.
“We were absolutely delighted and the club put a lot of effort and work into securing Karamoko for the next three years.
“Karamoko has always been in demand from the age of nine. It’s been an incredible journey for him so far.
“But one thing he’s got; he’s a humble boy. He knows he’s got to work hard and he has just moved up to the reserve team.”
FOOTNOTE: Feruz’s career never got off the ground at Chelsea. Still only 23, he hasn’t played a first team game for the London outfit and has been loaned to a succession of clubs, including Hibs, OFI Crete, Blackpool and Swindon.