Dedryck Boyata’s dad, Bienvenu, has urged young Belgian players to snub the big clubs and bigger cheques to ensure that they fulfil their potential.
Boyata Jnr signed for Manchester City as an 18-year-old and quickly disappeared into their system while massive money was invested at first team level.
After two spells out on loan and a handful of first team appearances at the Etihad Stadium, he joined Celtic as a 25-year-old with his career flourishing under Brendan Rodgers.
In 2014 Boyata was just another project at City but four years later he made three World Cup appearances for Belgium, earning the trust of Roberto Martinez to deputise for Vincent Kompany.
Picking up an interview in Nieusblad, the Daily Record reports Bienvenu Boyata as saying: “(For young players) It’s all about gaining experience, getting opportunities. And you do not get that quickly in England. It’s just very difficult to get there with the first team.
“Even (Romelu) Lukaku and (Kevin) De Bruyne, who had already gained experience in Belgium, were not used at Chelsea. However, they were sold with profit, and that’s what the English clubs seem to do.
“It is primarily a business. Young players are mainly a number. They are not bought to drop in the team, but to commercialise and make a profit. The cash register must ring.”
He added: “Dedryck lost a lot of time in Manchester. The offer he received at the age of 16 was seemed difficult to refuse. £200,000 a year? It was even more!
“If I can advise parents – do not go abroad too quickly. Take the time to quietly grow in Belgium, as Tielemans or Dennis Praet did.
“Some succeed in their ambitions, but most give up, see their dream go up in smoke, and then return in a lower league.”
Boyata’s four-year Celtic deal runs out in the summer. At the age of 28, he could well decide to cash in with big money offers likely to come from clubs outside of the Scottish top flight.