I heard earlier this transfer window that the club didn’t expect an offer for Moussa Dembele. There was interest a year ago, but a year of injury, then a fresh injury at the start of this season, convinced all that the player would be with us until January, at least.
When Real Madrid invoked a buy-out clause for Lyon striker Mariano on Wednesday, the French club were prepared to throw a lot of money around to buy a replacement, and their primary target was Moussa Dembele.
There are millions of euros at play here. Agent fees alone would be in seven figures, while the contract available for the player would dwarf anything Celtic pay. In addition, they were prepare to offer Celtic a lot of money. So what do you do?
Celtic were not planning to sell Moussa Dembele, just as they were not planning to sell Kieran Tierney in July. The club gave very clear messages to Lyon that they would not entertain a bid. Note Lyon president, Jean-Michel Aulas’ comments “I know the boss at Celtic well. He is basically like a bulldog who negotiates after yapping.”
The assumption in Lyon was that after Peter Lawwell’s “yapping” there would be some negotiation. Lyon expected Celtic to roll over, but Celtic did not bite.
The choice was to pocket the money without buying a direct replacement (as it was too late), or reject the offer. The sale was not even considered, by the manager or board. As we saw three weeks ago with Boyata, Celtic do not need the money, what they need is talented footballers.
It was right to reject the offer. Not just because we need players more than money, but because if we fold under player pressure, we will only encourage more ‘sore back/not the right frame of mind’ scenarios when contracted players are tapped up during a qualification campaign.
The football business is incredibly unstable. We contract players, who, if they succeed, will soon be able to earn millions of pounds per year more than we will ever pay them. You either sell when the big offers come, or turn your face to stone and sell when you are ready.
I don’t know if playing hardball this month will stop this happening again, but folding would guarantee tantrums every time a player receives an 80€/week offer. We could be sitting this morning with all the money in the world, but a little light up front. That’s not the plan and never has been.
The first piece of business today was the signing of central mid, Youssouf Mulumbu. Youssouf’s career came off the rails when he broke his metatarsal weeks after joining Norwich three years ago, but a cameo half season at Kilmarnock convinced Brendan Rodgers to move. Welcome to Celtic, Youssouf.
Let’s get Filip Benkovic signed up, and spank Newco back into their dystopian existence on Sunday. Oh, and Malmo and Sarpsborg would do nicely in the Europa.