When Moussa Dembele became available on a free transfer in the summer, several top clubs were interested, including Arsenal.
Last season Dembele excelled in the Championship, but many were concerned that he was still a one season wonder, not capable of performing at that level outside of the Championship. Now at Celtic the youngster has proven he has a lot to his game and is capable of performing at a different club in a different environment and even excelling on Europe’s biggest stage, the Champions League.
Dembele reminds me a bit of Romelu Lukaku. Despite his young age, he is capable of holding his own in a lone forward role, holding the ball up, bringing others into play, whilst his finishing is clinical. On paper he has everything you would want in a striker. Like most young players, all he lacks at the moment is a bit of consistency. With the right guidance and development this will come as he matures. Like Lukaku, he also struggles to hold onto the ball.
He has scored 6 goals in his first 8 league games as a Celtic player and aged just 20, this is very impressive. He’s also netted 2 in 2 in the Champions League. Physically he’s built very well, standing at 6ft tall, with a strong frame. He’s also a very strong dribbler of the ball.
Arsenal do have attacking options, but currently all of them are 27 or older. The likes of Lucas, Alexis and Giroud will not be around in 5 year’s time (or will be far from their best) and Arsenal need to keep one eye on the future. With Chuba Akpom looking like he will not make the grade, the Gunners must be on the lookout or else they will end up having to invest a huge amount of money when the need for a new striker becomes essential and urgent in a few years time.
The sticking point is cash. With Arsenal failing (or not trying hard enough) to land Dembele for free when they had the chance, Celtic are likely to demand in excess of £10million now that they have the forward tied to a long term contract. Whether Wenger would be willing to shell out such an amount remains questionable. There’s also the fact that Danny Welbeck is due back around January time and Lucas Perez and Olivier Giroud are currently not playing regularly because of Alexis Sanchez’ form. That means Dembele’s game time is likely to be heavily restricted if he were to join Arsenal. That’s why I’d offer Celtic the chance to loan him back immediately.
Dembele chose Celtic so he could play regularly and a loan deal back to them would enable him to do that. But ultimately the former Fulham striker will want to play for a better club and I’m sure he wouldn’t hesitate if such a deal was offered to him. Although Dembele’s value has already risen rapidly, signing him now could potentially save the club a lot of money. In this market, young striker with his kind of potential can demand in excess of £40million.