The Rodgers factor: Dembele joins Celtic

Date published: Wednesday 29th June 2016 9:20

Moussa Dembele

Moussa Dembele has been confirmed as Brendan Rodgers’ first signing as Celtic manager.

The highly-rated French forward has signed a four-year contract at Celtic Park after leaving Fulham.

The 19-year-old hit 17 goals for the Sky Bet Championship side last season.

Dembele arrived at Parkhead as Stefan Scepovic became the latest striker to leave.

The teenager joined Fulham in 2012 from Paris St German and made his first-team debut the following year in the Barclays Premier League.

The French youth international struck up a formidable partnership with Scotland striker Ross McCormack last season and was linked with the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Juventus, Galatasaray and Stuttgart.

Dembele was close to joining Spurs earlier this year but the deal fell through and Celtic have signed him for a relatively small compensation fee given he was out of contract.

His arrival comes ahead of Celtic’s Champions League campaign, which will begin on July 12 or 13, and provides support for Leigh Griffiths, who struck 40 goals last season.

Scepovic’s exit had briefly left Griffiths and Nadir Ciftci as the only experienced forwards at the club.

The Serbia striker signed a four-year contract with Spanish second-tier outfit Getafe, where he spent last season on loan.

The 26-year-old – who moved for a reported fee of £1million – signed for Celtic on the final day of the 2014 summer transfer window after a 23-goal campaign with Sporting Gijon.

But the former Sampdoria, Club Brugge and Partizan Belgrade frontman managed just six goals from his 26 Celtic appearances.

Scepovic is the fourth striker to exit Celtic Park since Rodgers was appointed at the end of May.

Anthony Stokes joined Blackburn while Colin Kazim-Richards is now plying his trade in Brazil with Curitiba. Carlton Cole was released.

Dembele feels Celtic is the ideal place for him to progress.

He told Celtic TV: “I’m happy to be at a massive club like Celtic and I can’t wait to start scoring goals.

“To be the first signing of Brendan Rodgers is unreal for me. He told me that Celtic is a good team for me. I will have game time. I obviously have to show I can stay in the team.

“I think it’s a good way for me to progress, with a massive stadium and the fans and the city. Everyone lives for Celtic and it’s unbelievable for me to play for a massive club like this.”

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