Celtic were last night on the brink of sealing a deal for sought-after teenager Kouassi Eboue after the Ivorian arrived in Scotland for a medical and talks on personal terms.
The club’s interest in the 19-year-old FC Krasnodar midfielder only emerged on Tuesday but he was in Glasgow yesterday ahead of the planned £2.8 million transfer.
Eboue had his first look at Celtic Park as efforts to obtain a work permit for the player continue.
He has yet to make his debut for the Ivory Coast international team but has featured in two recent squads, against France and Morocco.
He has also become a established member of Russian Premier League side FC Krasnodar’s first-team despite only joining them last year, from Armenian club Shirak.
He was a stand-out during Krasnodar’s Europa League campaign earlier this season.
The player’s rapid progress looks set to continue at Celtic, where he is expected to play as a defensive midfielder. Eboue is likely to become Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers’ first signing of the transfer window and could join his new teammates on their winter break trip to Dubai, with the players scheduled to leave for the Middle East tomorrow.
Former Liverpool boss Rodgers is still looking to add to the squad but will also look to move some players on during the transfer window.
Definitely remaining, though, will be Moussa Dembele. The club’s top goalscorer has attracted widespread interest since arriving from Fulham last summer. But Rodgers insists the 20-year-old striker, who scored his 14th goal of the season in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Rangers, knows he is best served staying with Celtic for the time being.
“It won’t be January for Moussa,” said Rodgers.
“It is the way it is up here. You know at Celtic that, if you get a really talented player, then the cycle at best is a couple of years, like Victor Wanyama and Virgil van Dijk and Ki Sung-Yeung.
“If they have that quality then it is a great platform for them to demonstrate that and then they know there is a better financial situation down south.
“With Moussa it was always going to be the case but the difference now with Celtic is that, if he does leave here, he won’t be going to a bottom end Premier League table.
“He is at a huge club and playing in front of 60,000 a week. The money can distort the reality for a lot of young players. It takes away from performing and winning things and having games under your belt. Now because the rewards can be given out so quickly, a lot of young players lose sight of that.
“It is the clever ones who put themselves on a pathway to perform, knowing that the rewards will come if they keep producing.”