Last week, as Brendan Rodgers snuck out of Glasgow – leaving Celtic temporarily without a manager just months away from an unprecedented treble treble – Moussa Dembele stared long and hard at the walls of his apartment in Lyon. A Live, Love, Laugh wall ornament, an Edith Piaf poster centred on the words Non, je ne regrette rien and a vast oil painting of his own face, captured in post scoring ecstasy, took up space along with his SPFL Player of the Month and Team of the Year awards.
Those teeth. Those stupid, horsey gnashers within that smug rictus grin. They gleamed out at Dembele from the curved metal of his awards. Rodgers. Those teeth of his. That face. Those words. The promises. Dembele snatched up his phone and let loose his rage. Hashtags. Gifs. Memes.
Mid flow he deleted a Can’t say anything more, DM me babes tweet and sat back with a wry smile. Because it was ok. Because he was the third best striker in all of France.
On Sunday Dembele scored twice as Lyon routed Toulouse 5-1 in a Ligue 1 fixture. These were his eight and ninth goals for the club in just 1372 league minutes. He’s not just been lucky – he is generating 0.63 non penalty Expected Goals every 90 minutes. That’s seriously good. For players with more than 1000 minutes in Ligue 1 this season only superstars Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe beat him. The twenty-two year old former Celt is more than holding his own amongst his age group across Europe’s top leagues.
This is great news for Scottish football. Celtic should be commended for getting a fair price for Dembele, Aberdeen deserve praise for setting high expectations in terms of a fee for Scott McKenna and Rangers must negotiate strongly when clubs – maybe even Leicester – come calling for Alfredo Morelos this summer. The success of Dembele and players such as Virgil Van Dijk, John McGinn and Andrew Robertson can be pointed to as justification for these strong stances. We may want to keep our best players within our game but ultimately, if they’re going to leave, the aim for clubs should be to secure top value and to reinvest that money in improving their teams and the experience for fans.