Celtic crashed out of the Champions League last night after their 2-1 (3-2 on aggregate) defeat to AEK Athens at the Athens Olympic Stadium.
The home side went in front inside six minutes when right-back Rodrigo Galo side-footed the ball past Craig Gordon before Marko Livaja headed AEK Athens into a 2-0 lead early into the second half.
Scott Sinclair managed to pull one back and give Celtic a glimpse of hope when his header — which was the substitute’s first touch of the game — flew past AEK Athens goalkeeper Vasilios Barkas just before the 80 minute mark.
However, Brendan Rodgers’ men were unable to find that all-important second away goal and now find themselves in the Europa League qualifying play-off round where either Lithuanian side Suduva or Latvia’s Spartaks Jurmala await.
Having already lost to Hearts in the SPL last weekend, Celtic’s Champions League third qualifying round exit adds to what has been a turbulent week and could now have serious repercussions for the club going forward.
Dedryck Boyata’s time in Glasgow looks to be coming to an end with the central defender’s agent having been quoted on talkSPORT saying his client will look to leave Celtic Park on a free transfer next summer.
And given Celtic’s lack of progression in the Champions League overall in recent years, other players could follow suit including Moussa Dembele.
£6.3m-rated (via Transfermarkt) Dembele has become one of Rodgers’ key players after joining from Fulham on a free transfer back in the summer of 2016, and his performances under the former Liverpool manager has caught the attention of a bunch of teams across Europe.
Chelsea, in particular, are said to be huge admirers of the Frenchman and wanted to sign him last January, while they also looked at the 22-year-old before he moved to Celtic Park (via Sky Sports).
Dembele mentioned being able to play in the Champions League was one of the decisive factors in him signing for Celtic (via BBC Sport).
And, while it is not a certainty Chelsea will return to Europe’s elite competition or if Dembele is even still on their shortlist for future transfer windows, the chance to play in the Premier League and earn higher wages could still lure the former Fulham man.
Ultimately, Celtic need to combine their dominance of Scottish football with serious progression in the Champions League or risk losing talented players such as Dembele.