Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has admitted to having concerns about the rapid progress of Karamoko Dembele and revealed he didn’t know the 13-year-old prodigy was set to be involved in an under-20 game against Hearts at Cappielow earlier this month.
The teenage midfielder has become a global talking point after being included in the Hoops development squad and given the opportunity to play against players six or seven years older than him.
Moreover, it was revealed yesterday that the youngster has also been training with the Hoops’ first-team, but Rodgers seems slightly concerned about some of the issues surrounding Dembele, and didn’t sound best pleased when asked if he gave the go ahead for his development squad cameo.
Speaking via The Sun, Rodgers said: “I did not know he was playing against Hearts in the Under-20s. Would I have sanctioned it? That’s not the point. The point is he played.
“In the modern world, everything is a story. You just have to be very careful.
“Karamoko is a kid. That’s what he is. He’s not a 13-year-old in the body of a 19-year-old man.
“He doesn’t have those maturity levels. He really looks 13.
“As much as what his ability is and how fast he is, the worry for me when I saw it was if a 25-year-old tackles him.
“I’m a father and as good as they are, I worry from a parent’s perspective.
“But Karamoko’s a talent and it will be managed going forward. Will I take a more hands-on role? Yes.
“The guys who work here are very good at their job, and I’m sure they probably never realised the scope of media attention it would have had.
“But it’s football, I oversee football.
“I obviously trust the guys here who do great work.
“Chris McCart, Jim McGuiness and Tommy McIntyre, they are doing a very good job with the young players.
“I spent time this week with the academy here. It was a few hours talking to them about things, and they are very open to what we are trying to do here.
“So it’s not an issue, it’s not a problem, but it’s certainly something going forward that we will manage.
“This kid doesn’t need any more exposure now.”
But what do you make of Rodgers’ comments?
Should he have been consulted about Dembele playing in the development squad game? And is he right when he talks about the 13-year-old going in for tackles with 25-year-olds? Should Dembele be allowed to flourish amongst players of a similar age?
Let us know in the comments section below…
YOU’LL LOVE OUR PODCAST
We react to Scotland’s dismal World Cup qualifiers against Lithuania and Slovakia before considering Gordon Strachan’s future as national team manager: