Celtic youngster Karamoko Dembele has been waiting patiently in the wings for two years now.
It has been an arduous time for the Hoops prodigy, a player who broke onto the scene as a 16-year-old in 2019 but still only has seven first team appearances to his name.
The Bhoys have done well not to overexpose him but there is a fine line to be had. The truth is that Neil Lennon and now John Kennedy haven’t utilised him as much as they should.
Dembele has played so little that there are growing concerns over his future in Paradise. For a long while it was thought that the 18-year-old’s contract would expire at the end of the season, but Kennedy provided welcome news in the week that the teenager still has one year left on his deal.
However, if he doesn’t want to stick around, this will be their final opportunity to receive a fee for his services. If he still hasn’t signed by January, then Dembele will be free to speak to foreign clubs.
To lose a player of his calibre on a free transfer would be simply disastrous, especially now he looks set to make a proper breakthrough in Glasgow.
Dembele came off the bench in the 4-0 win over St Johnstone a few days ago to score his first senior goal. It has been a long time coming but it was taken like a player who’s been at the top for years.
David Turnbull played an inch-perfect ball into the teenager’s path before he burst away from the defence and calmly found the back of the net.
He had a sensational impact and, if he doesn’t start on Saturday against Hibernian, it will feel like a crime against football, a devilish act deliberately made to trigger Celtic supporters.
The Hoops have nothing to play for on the final day of the campaign so this feels like the perfect time to finally unleash the winger. There is no pressure and no great expectation.
Speaking about Dembele in the week, Kennedy said: “Karamoko has been spoken about as the next superstar, but people develop physically at different rates. He is probably one who still has a bit of development, but is a terrific talent – we know that.”
Kennedy knows a flourishing young player when he sees one. He was crucial in the development of Kieran Tierney when he was coming through the ranks at Parkhead.
The left-back made a seamless transition to first team football, one that Dembele will now hope to follow. He has already made an impact at senior level and, if his goal on Wednesday tells you anything, it’s that he’s ready to start from the off.
Forget about Mohamed Elyounoussi, Celtic need to focus on players who will actually be at the club next season.