In our Transfers that shook the club feature, Football Transfer Tavern takes a look at deals that had many may not have seen coming and the impact that they had during their time by using statistical data and pundit remarks.
In July 2016, Celtic were looking for a striker and managed to pick up Moussa Dembele from Championship side Fulham on a free transfer, per Transfermarkt. The forward had also made appearances for France’s U20 side before his move to Scotland, and he had been highlighted as a player with massive potential, indeed before his move to Paradise it was reported that Mauricio Pochettino was keen to take him to Tottenham Hotspur (Evening Standard).
However, no one could have imagined how quickly he would excel in the Scottish Premiership after arriving for nothing, and it proved to be one of the biggest bargain signings in the club’s history.
Was Dembele the club's best ever bargain?
Dembele helped Fulham avoid relegation the campaign before signing for Celtic, the side finished two places above the drop zone, via BBC Sport, and his 17 goals in 46 games were crucial to the London side not being any lower.
In his first season north of the border, he played 49 times in all competitions and managed to score an impressive 32 goals whilst picking up nine assists along the way, via Transfermarkt. At the age of just 19, this was an astonishing tally for the striker and it was definitely a huge reason as to why the Celts came away with all three domestic trophies that year.
The Hoops maintained their dominance again in the following season, claiming the league title, League Cup and Scottish Cup again, and in Dembele’s final season, they won the title and the Scottish League cup again. The Frenchman was a key player throughout all that success, as proven by his tally of 51 goals and 18 assists in all competitions across three seasons.
Whilst at the club he also was selected 25 times for the France U21 side and scored 13 goals. His form was never going to go unnoticed, and many clubs were keeping tabs on the player. Ligue 1 club Lyon made an approach for the player, and he eventually did move to the French outfit in August 2018 with the fee being £19.80 million, via Transfermarkt.
Former England and Liverpool centre-back Jamie Carragher was full of praise for the forward in the early stages of his Celtic career back in October 2016. After watching him play in the Champions League, he said, via ninetyminutesonline: “Already the 20-year-old looks like an absolute bargain and, if he keeps scoring at the rate he has been, Celtic are going to struggle to keep him but potential suitors will have to be wary: if Celtic do eventually sell him, then it is going to be for a fee 20 or 30 times more than their initial outlay.”
Although many would have wanted the striker to stay, the fact is the Celts did exactly what Carragher thought would happen and nearly made £20 million profit on him, and this makes them signing him on a free even more sweeter. It could be argued that the transfer was one of the club’s best bargains in their history.
Celtic fans, what were your thoughts when Dembele left? Comment below!
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