By Dominic Toner
Brendan Rodgers has revealed that he held positive talks with Moussa Dembele’s agent before he joined Celtic.
The Celtic manager has explained that the forward was in no rush to join a top Premier League side and wanted to continue his development at a club that suited him, over the temptation of earning more money elsewhere.
The 20-year-old has made a huge impact since his summer arrival from Fulham and scored a hat-trick on Saturday in the club’s 5-1 demolition over Old Firm rivals Rangers.
Celtic’s victory has seen them retain their 100 per cent start to the new league campaign and they currently lead Hearts by two points at the top of table, having also played one game less.
Rodgers has admitted that he was not certain of landing Dembele in the transfer window but discussions with his agent made it clear a deal was possible.
“First of all I have to congratulate Moussa’s agent. When we heard he was available I spoke to people who knew him and heard there was a possibility we might get him,” Rodgers told the Daily Record. “I still felt it was a long shot, purely because of his age. He was 19, a sought-after striker, top teams in the premier League wanted him.”
“I spoke to Fulham and his agent and from the first day his agent was very clear. He is not in a rush. He knows he is going to be an outstanding young talent but he wanted to go to a club that could maybe develop that talent and make him a winner.”
“Some players follow the money. And believe you me, he could have got a lot more money than he’s getting here. But he’s come here and his attitude has been refreshing.
An injury to the club’s talisman Leigh Griffiths prior to the Rangers game meant that Dembele was handed just his second start in the Scottish Premiership.
Rodgers’ decision to start the youngster proved the right one as he scored with his left foot, right foot and his head.
Celtic travel to Camp Nou on Tuesday to face Barcelona in the Champions League and Dembele may have forced his way into the starting XI for that match.
In other Celtic team news, Dembele and Scott Sinclair have shared a Twitter exchange after the win over Rangers.