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5th Jun, 2017 | 8:10am

Celtic eye 22-year-old international striker as Dembele replacement - report

By Derek Smithson

Celtic are eyeing Rostov forward Sardar Azmoun as a potential replacement for Moussa Dembele, according to a report.

The Scottish Sun claim that the Bhoys could move for the 22-year-old in the summer after impressing in the Russian league with Rostov.

It is understood that Brendan Rodgers previously scouted the Iran international when he was in charge at Liverpool and that he is currently being tracked by the likes of Everton, Villarreal, Lazio and several Russian teams.

The report details that Celtic could turn their attention towards Azmoun if they lose their star striker Dembele in the summer, who Rodgers is desperate to keep at the Scottish giants.

AC Milan are currently leading the chase for Celtic’s 20-year-old as they prepare to field a big-money offer, while Marseille, Paris-Saint Germain, Liverpool and Manchester United scouts are set to watch Dembele for France’s youth side on Thursday.

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Azmoun is being eyed after a successful season in the Russian league and the youngsters glowing reputation continues to grow.

The forward scored 12 goals in 41 appearances across all competitions last season, including strikers against Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

He also has a brilliant record on the International stage for his country Iran, scoring 24 goals in 38 senior appearances.

Azmoun has been dubbed the ‘Iranian Ibrahimovic’ due to his powerful performances and have just one year remaining on his Rostov deal.

Football Insider verdict:

Celtic’s priority should be keeping hold of Dembele in the summer as he can help them compete in Europe next season. The Frenchman struck 32 goals during his first year in Scottish football and is a crucial part of Rodgers’ side. The 20-year-old should be advised to stay with the Bhoys for  the next couple of years to continue his development, before making a permanent switch to an elite club. However, that doesn’t mean they should pursue Rostov striker Azmoun, who certainly looks an exciting prospect. Celtic do already have Dembele and Leigh Griffiths at their disposal, but emerging talent Azmoun would provide more competition for places.

In other Celtic transfer news, they are in advanced talks to sign a Premier League winner.

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