Moussa Dembele stood down from Celtic training amid move unrest

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers admitted he had to send Moussa Dembele off the training pitch to protect the harmony of his squad.

Dembele arrived for training after spending much of the morning on social media outlining his frustration over a blocked move to Lyon.

And the 22-year-old walked off the field after about 15 minutes following a discussion with Rodgers.

The Celtic boss said: “It is very important that I protect the environment as well. It was best for him to go inside and let the others work.

Relations are strained between Moussa Dembele and Brendan Rodgers
Relations are strained between Moussa Dembele and Brendan Rodgers (Jane Barlow/PA)

“My job is to protect the best interests of the club, the players that are here.

“The money is in their bank every month, so you have to work, there is no getting away from it.”

Dembele sat out Thursday’s Europa League win over Suduva following negotiations between Celtic and Lyon and he looks set to miss Sunday’s visit of Rangers.

When asked if the France Under-21 international was in the right state of mind to play, Rodgers said:  “Highly unlikely. You never know in the next 24/48 hours, we will see.”

Rodgers had admitted on Wednesday that he could understand why Dembele might feel the time was right to move two years into a four-year deal following the discussions they had when he signed.

But the Celtic boss would not sanction a move without having a replacement lined up.

Dembele was not understanding, though.

A post on his verified Twitter account late on Thursday night read: “A man, without his word, is nothing. A real man keeps his word.”

The France Under-21 international added in the early hours of the morning: “Don’t get it wrong Bhoys and Ghirls nothing to do with people who really care about the club @CelticFC too much love and respect for you and the crest #CarefulWhoYouCallTheLeaderOfYours”

Dembele liked several Twitter posts which backed his stance, and also one from former Celtic striker Chris Sutton which stated that he was “clearly calling out Brendan Rodgers”.

Rodgers said: “I would be disappointed if it was (aimed) at myself considering taking in him a couple of years ago from where he was at, developing him and giving him the opportunity and always being very clear and direct.

“There has never been any promises but there has always been a plan.

“We would love it to go to plan all the time but if it doesn’t we have to continue to work.”

Rodgers added: “At this time of the season there is always a narrative around players and agents and maybe trying to force moves. So it is disappointing. I had seen some of the comments within that. We will always look after the best interests of the club.”

One tweet Dembele liked came from a French media outlet which claimed Rodgers had told Dembele in January that Brighton was a better club than Celtic and tried to convince him to join West Brom.

Rodgers denied the claim “150 per cent”.

“I find that hard, being a Celtic supporter and knowing the size of this club and the worldwide appeal, that I would even consider saying anything like that,” he said.

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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