Moussa Dembele looks likely to be on his way out of Celtic before the end of the transfer window.
But where could he end up going?
The Hoops striker has been the subject of intense speculation over the January transfer window, beginning with apparent interest from Brighton in signing him in an £18million deal.
That hasn’t materialised yet, but Celtic have still had to face the speculation, with Brendan Rodgers and assistant Chris Davies both commenting on how Dembele’s head may have been turned.
He’s failed to get off the bench in both of Celtic’s opening games of 2018 and that’s just added to the talk he could be on his way out of Glasgow.
And if that is the case then where could he go? Here we look at five realistic destinations for the French striker:
1 – Brighton
Brighton’s interest seems apparent. Whether they actually made a bid on Christmas Day or not, there’s still interest there and you’d imagine that will remain until Chris Hughton’s men go for another striker. There’s no doubting they need one. Glenn Murray, at 34, is their top-scoring striker, but he’s not a long-term reliable option – particularly when you consider the news that he was arrested earlier this week in a tax fraud investigation. Brighton need a powerful frontman, have the money, are interested and Dembele looks to fit the bill.
2 – West Ham
We’d be surprised if David Moyes wasn’t well aware of Dembele. The Scottish manager has managed to turn things around with the Hammers since replacing Slaven Bilic in November, but he’ll surely have his eye on consistent results between now and the end of the season. If you look at his squad, there are decent striking options on paper in the form of Javier Hernandez and Andy Carroll. That said, the former has scored just four goals since signing for the club in the summer and quite obviously doesn’t fit with Moyes’ style, while the latter is injured for another three months. Beyond them, it’s slim pickings and Dembele could fit as a reinforcement this window. He certainly fits the bill of a Moyes striker, with Louis Saha, Victor Anichebe and Tim Cahill examples of strong, powerful frontmen who have excelled under the Scot in the past.
3 – Sevilla
If Dembele was to go abroad then Sevilla could be a realistic option in La Liga. Vincenzo Montella’s men currently sit sixth in the table, but could be higher if they had a proven goalscorer in their squad. They’ve only managed 26 goals in the league and that’s a poor return for a top-six team so a striker should be on the agenda during this window. Step forward Dembele. Significantly, Sevilla will have the money to spend and that should make striking a deal with Celtic much easier than for some other clubs. All that said, this move is one we think is the least likely to happen of the five possible destinations.
4 – Roma
If Edin Dzeko gets his reported £44million move to Chelsea in the window, Roma may find themselves scrambling around to find a replacement before it closes. He’s got 13 goals in all competitions for the Serie A side and Roma are a much poorer team if you take those goals out of the equation in the second half of the campaign. If they go looking for a like-for-like replacement for Dzeko then Dembele could be of interest – and, again, they have the money to do the deal. There’s been reported interest from Italy in Dembele before so maybe he’s already a known striker in the country.
5 – Stoke
Stoke need a striker – plain and simple. With Paul Lambert now in charge there, you’d expect he’ll be doing everything he can to find a frontman that he can rely on to fire the Potters to safety in the second half of the season. They currently sit 17th in the table, with just six wins from 24 games and only 25 goals scored. His current crop of strikers aren’t up to the task, with the less than prolific Mame Biram Diouf leading the scoring charts from the first half of the season showing just how poor they have been in the final third. Dembele would be a massive upgrade for them if they could do the deal.