Celtic's wanted man Moussa Dembele keeps his focus

In his first 18 months as a Celtic player, Moussa Dembele has been the subject of more speculation than a wildly fluctuating share price on the London Stock Exchange.

As the January transfer window approaches, the French striker can again anticipate being linked with a move to one of a host of clubs who have closely monitored his progress at the Scottish champions since he joined them from Fulham.

Brighton and Hove Albion have already been credited with a firm interest in luring Dembele back to England next month and they are unlikely to be the only suitors for the 21-year-old French striker, who has scored 40 goals in 66 appearances for Celtic.

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But as he has been throughout his time in Glasgow, Dembele remains totally relaxed about his personal situation. Under contract with Celtic until 2020, he has never expressed any desire to make a sharp exit from the club. Dembele is equally aware, however, that he could have a career choice to make at any given moment if Celtic receive an offer which meets their valuation of him.

Celtic's French striker Moussa Dembele trains at Lennoxtown. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS

“I can say I have a [career] plan, but the plan can change,” he said. “As long as I am here, I will give 100 per cent, but I don’t know until when. I just focus on my football and give my best for the club and then we will see. It [the speculation] is not really difficult for me. It was the case when I was at Fulham too, so I have been used to it. I just get my head down and work.

“I have my agent and my family who take care of that and I focus on my football. You have to focus on what you are good at and what I am good at is playing football and scoring goals. For me, every day I will be coming into training – I don’t look at the media or what people are saying about me. I just focus on myself and as long as I am here I will be giving 100 per cent and we will see what will happen in the future. For now, I am here.”

A phlegmatic and softly-spoken individual, Dembele has not allowed the disrupted personal nature of this season – he missed almost three months of it because of a hamstring injury – to affect him unduly.

“It’s not really been frustrating,” he insisted. “Injuries are part of football. Don’t be a footballer if you don’t want to be injured. You don’t want to be injured, but sometimes you are. You have to work hard to make sure you come back fit and strong and that’s what I’ve done. So there is no frustration. It is difficult to watch the games from the stand, of course. You imagine yourself on the pitch and what you would be doing if you were.

Celtic's French striker Moussa Dembele trains at Lennoxtown. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS

“You are never 100 per cent fit. Ask any player – you might be in good shape but you are never 100 per cent fit. You always have something – maybe you have a knock or don’t feel that sharp but you have to play and get through it. For me, I feel good right now and I know I can play two or three games in a row and that is good.”

Dembele has a fresh rival for the Celtic central striking role this season with his young compatriot Odsonne Edouard, pictured, on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, joining Leigh Griffiths in laying a claim for the position.

“Odsonne has done well since he came into the team and stepped up and scored a hat-trick against Motherwell recently,” added Dembele. “That is good for him but there has always been competition at this club. That is not new. I don’t look to my right or my left to others, though, I just focus on myself.”

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Dembele, meanwhile, gave a bullish reaction to Monday’s draw for the last 32 of the Europa League which handed Celtic a February tie against big-spending Russian side Zenit St Petersburg.

“There is nothing to fear from any team,” he said. “They are human, even if they have spent more money than us. We just need to compete against them and do our best.”