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Ray Parlour reckons Celtic could be forced to say bon voyage to Moussa Dembele in the summer as the striker has the Gallic flair to be the next French megastar at Arsenal.
The Gunners legend has been keeping tabs on the Hoops hitman and is convinced a big-money bid will land on the Parkhead doorstep at the end of the season.
Chelsea, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are all in the hunt but Parlour is convinced Dembele could follow French fliers like Nicolas Anelka, Thierry Henry and Oliver Giroud.
Radio pundit Parlour said: “Dembele’s been a terrific signing for Celtic. To get him for next to nothing was a wonderful bit of business. Keeping him in January was important and I’m pleased he stayed because he can enjoy the rest of the season and probably end up with some winners’ medals.
“But you have to be realistic, it will be extremely difficult if a huge bid comes in this summer. When you’re looking at figures of £35million up, then it’s serious money.
“At Arsenal we had Nicolas Anelka, who was a serious talent. He got his dream move to Real Madrid after a couple of years.
“The club got £23m for him and with that money we spent £13m on the training ground and used another £10m to buy a replacement – Thierry Henry.
“He ended up being the club’s greatest ever striker with a statue outside the ground.
“Arsenal have a great track record with young French strikers, and French players in general.
“Henry is the obvious one but Anelka was probably more similar to the Dembele situation. He was signed for just £500,000 as well, and went on to be a record transfer within a year.
“Dembele’s got a long way to go in that respect but there will be a lot of big clubs in the market for him in the summer – and I’m not surprised Arsenal are one of them.
“If you look across Europe, there’s not a huge amount of young talented strikers. Everyone is looking for someone to score goals and create chances, and when they see a lad of just 20 who is doing the business for Celtic in Scotland and in the Champions League, they”re going to be interested.
“He’s also banging on the door for the France national team as well and I know Thierry rates him highly. It will be interesting to see what happens and it could end up everyone’s a winner.
“He’s done a great job for Celtic and he could turn out to be a brilliant investment.”
Parlour admitted an Arsenal bid for Dembele could hinge on whether Arsene Wenger is still in charge at the Emirates.
There has been plenty of
speculation the Frenchman’s 21-year reign in north London could be coming to an end – and there is already talk Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers would be in the frame as a potential replacement.
Parlour can understand that as he reckons the former Liverpool manager is back on the radar of top English clubs on the back of his spectacular start with Celts.
But having spoken to the Hoops gaffer he believes it would take a really special offer to persuade the Northern Irishman to turn his back on his Parkhead dream.
There’s also the fact he wouldn’t dare tout Rodgers for the Gunners when he has to work alongside Celtic fan and former Scotland striker Alan Brazil on radio.
Parlour said: “There’s a lot of uncertainty at Arsenal right now so anything could happen. They need to sort out the contract situations regarding the likes of Sanchez, Ozil and Jack Wilshere but of course there’s Arsene’s situation as well.
“I honestly don’t know what will happen with him, it’s 50-50 right now. I’m sure he will discuss it with the board in the summer but at the moment they have a FA Cup tie against Lincoln to get in to the semi-finals and are back in the top four in the league.
“It could go either way. I’m sure if Arsene was to go then Brendan Rodgers would be one of the names mentioned as a possible replacement.
“He’ll probably get linked with a lot of the jobs that come up in England but whether he would take them is a different matter.
“I could see the attraction of going to an Arsenal but Celtic are a huge club – as Alan Brazil keeps telling me.
“Brendan comes on the show a lot and you get the feeling he is happy where he is right now.
“He’s doing a brilliant job, they’re miles ahead in the league and I thought they did well in a really tough group in Europe.
“He’s proved he’s a quality boss. His stock is on the rise again with what he is doing at Celtic.
“There’s going to be interest
in him but I could see him being loyal to Celtic and sticking around a few years, and enjoying some success.
“He’s at a massive club, the only thing that holds Celtic back is the financial difference to the clubs in the Premier League.
“But he has the chance to work in front of 60,000 people every week, win trophies and compete in the Champions League. That’s not to be sniffed at.”
● Ray Parlour is guest speaker at The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice’s Sportsman’s Dinner on March 23 at Glasgow Hilton.
The hospice, at Carlton Place in Glasgow city centre, provides free palliative care and support to individuals and families who are living with significant challenges to their health and wellbeing. It cares for more than 1200 new patients and families every year.