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NO PROMISES TO MOUSSA, RODGERS

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BRENDAN RODGERS insists Moussa Dembele has conceded in a private conversation no-one at Celtic made promises about allowing him to leave the champions.

The admission to the Hoops boss from the French striker was witnessed by club officials.

Dembele, who was two years into a four-year contract, quit the Parkhead side in a £19.7million move to Lyon just hours before Friday night’s transfer deadline.

However, as controversy mounted over his insistence to get a move back to his homeland, the 22-year-old frontman made insinuations on social media that someone had not kept his word to allow him to leave the club.

Following the 1-0 win over Rangers at Parkhead yesterday, Rodgers detailed a meeting he had with his staff and Dembele.

The Iirishman said: “The whole episode was disappointing – and I’ll say a bit on it and then that will be it then, because it’s been a bit one-way.

“I had a really close relationship with Moussa. I enticed him to come here, with a plan going forward.

“He was desperate for the move, of course, but we wanted to try and keep him because we didn’t have another option.

“But then there was a line that was overstepped, from a behaviour perspective, and I’ve been in these situations enough times to know if you can pull it back or not. And, like I said, I needed to speak to Moussa – and I had a number of my senior staff with me.

THE FRENCH CONNECTION…Olivier Ntcham is congratulated by Odsonne Edouard and his team-mates after his winner against Rangers.

“I just asked him; can you tell me and the guys in the room that you received promises from me, or any member of Celtic? And quite clearly and categorically he said: ‘No’. So, once he said that, that was fine then, I said: “You can now go, if you can get the move’.

“There is a lot of integrity here within our staff and with our team and how we work. I understand the model here at Celtic, with these talents coming in. You develop them and then you move them on.

“But there was a lot of stuff that was said that was not so nice and, ironically, not true.

“But Moussa is happy – he’s got his move. Deep down, I know he’s a good boy, he’s done great for us here and I wish him all the very best at Lyon.

“I have to deal with it. I’m a striker down, but I’ll always protect the mentality of the group and we’ve got young players to come through.

“The bigger picture – I always think of that. I think of Celtic, the squad, the spirit within the team. I’ve got young Ryan Christie – there are opportunities for him now. I’ll look forward to that coaching element now until the end of December, as opposed to talking about transfers.”

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Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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