Celtic dig in on Moussa Dembele transfer bid

Brendan Rodgers is determined that he will now allow Moussa Dembele to leave Celtic without signing a suitable replacement. Picture: SNS.
Brendan Rodgers is determined that he will now allow Moussa Dembele to leave Celtic without signing a suitable replacement. Picture: SNS.
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Brendan Rodgers is adamant Moussa Dembele will not be allowed to leave Celtic today if the Scottish champions remain unable to find a replacement for the striker before the transfer window closes at midnight.

The Celtic manager confirmed that a “significant” bid from Lyon for Dembele had been rebuffed but the French club are still hopeful of pushing a deal through.

It’s understood Dembele wants to join Lyon but Rodgers is not currently prepared to sanction the move.

“It’s no good for us,” said Rodgers after Celtic’s 3-0 win over Suduva took them into today’s Europa League group stage draw.

“It has to work for both parties. Celtic need to have someone of a certain calibre and quality to bring in. We’ll see over the course of the next 24 hours. The club have had a significant offer. We don’t want him to go. I’ll speak more to him tomorrow. It’s a difficult situation for him in terms of the possibility he has. But, like I say, it has to work for both.”

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas indicated that he will continue his efforts to persuade Celtic to part with Dembele. “It’s very complicated with Celtic,” said Aulas. “We will make sure to negotiate well tonight and tomorrow, the last day of the summer transfer window, and we hope that reason will prevail and that we will have a new player.”

Celtic should conclude the signings of Congolese midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu and Croatian central defender Filip Benkovic today. Both were at the match last night.

Mulumbu, 31, is a free agent after leaving Kilmarnock at the end of last season. He is poised to sign a two-year contract with Celtic.

Benkovic is expected to join on loan from Leicester City. The 21-year-old moved to the English Premier League club from Dinamo Zagreb this summer in a £13 million deal.

“I’d been after a strong running number eight and Youssouf showed at Kilmarnock he was outstanding,” said Rodgers. “He’s got great experience. He had options and took his time to asses everything, so for us to get someone of his experience and quality in will help our younger players.

“I’m not sure if Benkovic has been totally confirmed yet. It would be a loan deal. He’s got a bright future at Leicester. He’s a big threat in both boxes and it’s something the team needs.”

Rodgers was pleased with his team’s win over Suduva, in which Leigh Griffiths scored his 100th goal for Celtic.

“It’s a brilliant record and I’m delighted for him,” said Rodgers. “We are happy to qualify for the group stage. It was important for us to join teams like Arsenal,

AC Milan and Chelsea in the draw which we look forward to.

“I was pleased with the goals and another clean sheet. We had a lot of possession in the first half but had a greater tempo in the second half which allowed us to create more chances.”

Celtic are in Pot 2 for today’s Europa League draw, which takes place today at noon in Monaco. Rangers are in Pot 4 but teams from the same country can’t be drawn against each other at this stage.

Either club could end up playing top seeds Sevilla, Arsenal, Chelsea or Lazio, while Celtic could come up against old foes Malmo, Anderlecht or Rosenborg. Rangers could face 2008 Uefa Cup final opponents Zenit St Petersburg, Marseille or Astana of Kazakhstan while, in Pot 3, Qarabag, RB Leipzig and BATE Borisov are among the potential opponents.