Scottish Premiership: Moussa Dembele sets record straight on Celtic future

The Frenchman has been heavily linked with a move away from Glasgow in January but he appears to have given assurances on his future.

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In-form: The French Under-21 international has made the Celtic striking spot his own ahead of Leigh Griffiths in the first half of the season (Picture from Sky Sports)

Celtic fans can breathe a sigh of relief as red-hot striker Moussa Dembele appears to have given some clarity about his immediate future.

The Frenchman has ripped up the Scottish Premiership since arriving last summer from English Championship side Fulham and is the champions’ top scorer so far this season with 19 goals in all competitions.

The 20-year-old has been heavily linked with a move away in the January transfer window, with English Premier League outfit West Ham United reportedly keen in signing him.

But, according to Celtic Quote on Twitter, Dembele has now reassured the Hoops supporters that he is going nowhere – at least for now.

In a recent interview, he said: “I have a four-year contract and I don’t see myself leaving Celtic. I’m not leaving in the January window.”

Dembele is currently away with the Celtic squad in Dubai for their mid-season training camp, with the Scottish top-flight currently on a three-week winter break.

And, whilst away, Brendan Rodgers has expressed his determination not to cash in on one of his prized assets after just six months.

He said: “Even if a club offered what we thought was the player’s worth now, we don’t need to do it. We want to improve and keep developing as a team.

“I respect the market in Scotland because it is tough. I can imagine that if someone comes in with, say £20 million it’s like ‘bloody hell’. I can understand that.

“But if you invest some more time then you can maybe get even more money.”

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Bargain buy: Dembele became Rodgers’ first signing as Celtic boss last summer for a development fee of around £500,000 (Picture from Sky Sports)

Earlier this week, former Celtic frontman Charlie Nicholas gave his view that Dembele shouldn’t be in a rush to leave Glasgow and should carefully consider who his next club should be.

The Sky Sports pundit said: “If the right club comes in then make sure it is the right club for you. I can judge that, because I had a lot of clubs after me.

“Is he going to get a game at Arsenal? I would say not. All the top clubs? I would say not yet. In a year’s time? A strong possibility.”

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First impressions: Dembele announced his arrival with the first Celtic Old Firm league hat-trick since 1966 in their 5-1 win over Rangers in September (Picture from Sky Sports)

The forward has played a huge part in the club’s success so far this season – with Celtic having already won the League Cup and holding a 19-point lead at the top of the Premiership after a 2-1 win over second-placed Rangers at Ibrox on New Year’s Eve.

He scored three goals in the Champions League group stages, nine in the league, five Old Firm goals, a penalty in the 3-0 League Cup final success against Aberdeen and has racked up five assists.

The Hoops have already recruited in the transfer market, with Ivorian midfielder Kouassi Eboue signing from Russian side FC Krasnodar and allowed defender Eoghan O’Connell to join English League One side Walsall on loan.

Celtic return to action next Sunday in a Scottish Cup fourth round tie against League One Albion Rovers at the Excelsior Stadium.

Premier League: Tony Pulis gives his verdict on Tottenham defeat

The West Bromwich Albion head coach reflected on his side’s display, Spurs and the gulf between the Premier League’s top six and the rest.

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From the top: West Brom had only lost one of the previous seven meetings with Spurs but have only taken one point from the top seven this term – against Tottenham earlier in the season (Picture from Sky Sports)

Tony Pulis rued a bad day at the office for West Bromwich Albion after his side were beaten out of sight by title-chasing Tottenham.

From the first whistle, Spurs were streets ahead of the Baggies, who went down 4-0 at White Hart Lane as Harry Kane bagged a hat-trick either side of a Gareth McAuley own goal.

Albion have notoriously made life difficult for Spurs in recent times but had no answer to a dominant display from Mauricio Pochettino’s in-form side.

Head coach Pulis refused to attack his players for their poor showing and praised Spurs but admitted the performance was nowhere near the levels it needed to be at.

He told Sky Sports afterwards: “When you come to these grounds against these teams you’ve got to be at your best – not just technically but mentally as well and I think we were short today.

“I’m not going to criticise our players – our players have done fantastically so far this year.

“But today we just weren’t on it. I don’t take no credit away from Tottenham who are a very good team but our lads weren’t right on that mettle today and you’ve got to be.

“If you’re not then you’ll get punished and that is what has happened today.”

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Ambitions: Pulis (right) has never finished higher than 11th in the Premier League with West Brom or previous clubs Stoke and Crystal Palace (Picture from Sky Sports)

Despite being dumped out of the FA Cup by Championship side Derby County last weekend, the Baggies had won their previous two league games after conceding the first goal and arrived in north London eighth in the table.

The Midlands club, who held Spurs to a 1-1 draw back in October, ran Chelsea and Arsenal close away from home last month before succumbing to 1-0 defeats.

But Pulis conceded that the quality of Spurs shone through on this occasion and it will be an experience his side won’t dwell on too much.

“We’re human beings and we have good days and bad days at times – even outside of football, never mind in football,” he said.

“Like I said, I don’t want to take anything away from Spurs. They were very, very good and Kane gets his hat-trick but for us, like I said to the players, you have to be on it against these teams and we’ve done that this year.

“We’ve really worked hard at the bigger clubs and have been unfortunate not to get results but today we were miles off it and it was disappointing but we’ll dust ourselves down and move on.”

The thumping victory was Spurs’ seventh in a row in all competitions – which lifted them up to second in the table and to within four points of leaders Chelsea – who play at champions Leicester on Saturday evening.

But despite being in great shape and their lofty position, Pulis wouldn’t definitively say whether Pochettino’s men can sustain a title challenge and feels the gap between the best and the rest is wider than ever.

“I said before the game they’ve got real quality but it’s a tough league and there are some very, very good sides,” he commented.

“The top six of the Premiership this year could be the biggest gap ever from the sixth position to the seventh position because that’s how far ahead they are from the rest of us.”

Premier League: Mauricio Pochettino on Tottenham 4-0 West Brom

The Spurs boss spoke about his team’s performance, their title credentials, Jan Vertonghen’s injury and hat-trick hero Harry Kane.

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Landmark: The Argentine was victorious in his 200th game as a manager in English football (Picture from Sky Sports)

Mauricio Pochettino hailed his players after Tottenham proved their title credentials once again with a thumping 4-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion at White Hart Lane.

Harry Kane bagged a hat-trick as Spurs moved up to second in the Premier League with a seventh successive victory in all competitions in Saturday’s lunchtime encounter.

The Lilywhites were dominant from the outset and could have scored more had it not been for Baggies goalkeeper Ben Foster, who was in inspired form.

And Pochettino couldn’t be happier with his team and their polished display as they followed up their impressive win over leaders Chelsea 10 days ago with three more crucial points.

“I think it was a great performance from the team,” he told Sky Sports. “Very pleased. [I] congratulate the players. Fantastic performance, very solid performance.

“Very happy because they play the way that we play – that was the most important thing for us after the Chelsea victory to get the three points and fight now in a really good position.

“I think we’re in a very good moment and after Chelsea we feel confident, we feel with good energy, we worked hard in the week, we had good organisation. I think the team showed a very solid performance and we are pleased.”

Spurs had struggled against the Baggies in recent times but stormed to an eighth home win on the spin in all competitions, with Kane helping himself to his fourth treble for the club either side of a Gareth McAuley own goal.

The only blot on the copybook was a nasty-looking injury to Jan Vertonghen, who appeared to roll his ankle when attempting to prevent a throw-in just after the hour mark and was replaced by Ben Davies after receiving treatment on the side of the pitch.

A concerned Pochettino admitted afterwards the signs are not good for the Belgian defender.

“It’s a situation that disappoints us,” the Spurs boss admitted. “It looks bad. We need to wait until tomorrow or Monday to assess.

“He’s disappointed and he’s in a very difficult period but we will push him to recovery quickly and try to help him.”

Although it was a team effort, Kane will undoubtedly steal the headlines as he took his Premier League tally to 13 goals this season with his hat-trick – ending a special week on a personal level after the birth of his first child, daughter Ivy Jane.

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Record: Kane is now on 62 league goals in 99 appearances – the quickest ever Spurs player to reach the 60 mark (Picture from Sky Sports)

Pochettino said: “Harry has missed 10 games in the Premier League but it’s like he’s not been away.

“We talk about Dele Alli as a special player and I’m very pleased after an amazing week for him. To score three goals was an important week to close.”

A surprise package last season, Spurs came agonisingly close to catching champions Leicester before falling short in the final hurdles.

But, after equalling their club record of six straight league wins, Pochettino believes his team are better equipped for a title challenge this term as they moved to within four points of Chelsea – who visit the King Power Stadium in Saturday’s evening kick-off.

“I think we are showing a good maturity and I think the team learnt a lot from last season,” the former Southampton boss added.

“We are in a very good moment and it’s important to keep that.

“We want to fight and challenge for good things. I think that performance and the performance against Chelsea is a good example of how we need to play.”

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Mixed bag: Spurs face some tough and winnable fixtures in the Premier League in the next few weeks (Picture from Sky Sports)

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Premier League: Harry Kane reacts to Tottenham’s win over West Brom

The in-form striker spoke about his hat-trick, the team’s performance and his unforgettable week after Saturday’s crushing 4-0 win at White Hart Lane.

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Record: No player has scored more Premier League hat-tricks for Tottenham than Kane who now has three (Picture from Sky Sports)

Hat-trick hero Harry Kane described title-chasing Tottenham’s 4-0 demolition of West Bromwich Albion as their best performance of the season so far.

The in-form England striker scored his fourth treble in a Spurs shirt and took his tally to 12 goals in his last 13 Premier League games as Mauricio Pochettino’s moved up to second in the table after a seventh successive win in all competitions.

And the 23-year-old, who is closing in on wantaway Chelsea frontman Diego Costa in the leading scorers chart, praised Spurs’ display against a team who have notoriously made life difficult for them in recent times.

“We were outstanding today,” Kane told Sky Sports afterwards. “I’d say that’s probably our best performance of the season. We could have scored a lot more if it wasn’t for Ben [Foster] in [the West Bromwich Albion] goal – he made some unbelievable saves.

“We were very good today. At home we wanted to keep our streak going and we’ve done that.”

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Return: Only Diego Costa has scored more league goals than Kane so far this season – despite the Spurs striker missing a month of action with an ankle injury (Picture from Sky Sports)

Indeed, the north London club have now won their last eight games at White Hart Lane in all competitions and piled the pressure on their rivals.

By taking home the match ball, Kane – who was the Premier League’s top scorer with 25 goals last season – has reached the 60 league goal mark quicker than any other Spurs player.

Although pleased by the achievement, he insisted the team is more important than personal glory.

“That’s fantastic,” he said. “I don’t look at the records too much, I just try to go out there, play, score for my team, win for my team, so yes that’s fantastic but it’s a fantastic day all round.”

After this latest win and a hat-trick to boot, it’s been a special last seven days for Kane, which he is unlikely to forget following the birth of his first child, daughter Ivy Jane, earlier in the week.

“It’s amazing,” a delighted Kane added. “The week’s been a bit of a whirlwind, obviously having a little daughter but yeah it’s just been amazing the whole week and to finish it off like this is just the best way possible.”


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Manchester United v Liverpool: Why Spidercam heaps more pressure on Michael Oliver

The additional technology at Old Trafford is likely to put the referee’s every decision under even more scrutiny than normal.

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Different: Spidercam, which has also been used in cricket, offers a unique viewing experience and many will be looking forward to seeing it in the English top-flight for the first time

With cameras covering almost every angle and every decision magnified however small it may seem, the job of match officials has never been tougher.

Although referees are getting fitter, so are the players and a modern Premier League game played at an electrifying pace is increasingly difficult to keep up with for the men in the middle – some of which are in their 40s or 50s.

Television coverage is becoming more expensive for companies to acquire and their eagerness to improve the service they provide for viewers means changes are being made all the time.

And the introduction of the ‘Spidercam’ for this weekend’s blockbuster at Old Trafford is the latest addition by Sky Sports to make those watching on TV feel like they are a supporter inside the stadium.

Crews have been busy installing the 3D camera system, which slides across wires above the pitch, throughout the week and it will undoubtedly enhance the experience for armchair fans by bringing them closer to the action.

But, for officials going about their business, the extra feature will only increase the pressure to ensure their decision-making is impeccable and intensify scrutiny should they make a wrong call.

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First: Old Trafford will be the first stadium in the Premier League to experience the Spidercam (Picture from Sky Sports)

The use of the Spidercam at World Cups, European Championships and the Champions League in recent years has given competitions at the top of the game a revolutionary new dimension.

With the 360-degree camera roving across the pitch, it can reach as high as 10 metres above the playing surface and be operated from pitchside.

It will come to the fore for corners, penalties or free-kicks and, given the number of set-pieces in every single game and the amount of grappling that goes on inside the box, the footage is likely to leave officials even more red-faced if they fail to identify even the slightest infringements.

During a time when referees are being criticised on an almost weekly basis, they will have to brace themselves for further scrutiny if and when the Spidercam is rolled out in every ground.

With instant reaction, pundits often make the life of officials difficult and the use of this technology will spearhead the post-match analysis through an array of optimum replays, with decisions likely to be under the microscope more than ever.

A series of controversial red cards lately will not have helped to convince fans that standards are improving, which is certainly a bone of contention, but their esteemed reputation worldwide remains upheld.

Although some Select Group officials have operated at major tournaments before, most recently Martin Atkinson and Mark Clattenburg at Euro 2016, many will not have officiated with this technology.

Michael Oliver, who is tasked with taking charge of Manchester United against Liverpool on Sunday, is still relatively new to the European and international circuit but, with his 32nd birthday approaching next month, he is one of the youngest and fittest officials in the Premier League.

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Man in the middle: Oliver has been a Premier League referee since 2010 – the same year Spidercam was used at a major football tournament (Picture from BBC Sport)

Having overseen United’s 3-1 home win over their north West rivals last season, previous experience of what can be one of English football’s most fiery occasions will stand the Fifa official in good stead.

But nothing can prepare him for what lies ahead once the whistle has blown and an auxiliary camera is hovering directly above watching his every move.

Of course, with the stakes high, the right decisions must be made but, whilst the Spidercam is a broadcasting innovation, a reminder that officials are only human is often needed and giving fans a birds-eye view of proceedings won’t do their cause much good.

Not normally afraid to make a big decision, Oliver – who will be relieved he hasn’t had the same media storm follow him in the same way Anthony Taylor did before the reverse fixture – knows he needs to be at his best but he is the ideal man to illustrate that the officials can handle any extra pressure heaped on them.

Although the Spidercam is effectively on trial at Old Trafford, it won’t be long before every Premier League game will have this additional feature – if the successful implementation of goal-line technology and exploration of further video technology is anything to go by.

And match officials must be ready to raise their performance to another level and react in a positive manner, otherwise their confidence may suffer to the extent that it may be beyond repair.

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Peter Beagrie: Leeds United need to strengthen in January transfer window

The Sky Sports pundit still believes Garry Monk needs to be busy in the transfer market if the club are to sustain a promotion challenge this season.

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Bolstering their ranks: The Football League pundit thinks Leeds need to add numbers in January to stay in the promotion battle (Picture from Sky Sports)

Peter Beagrie believes high-flying Leeds United still need to strengthen in the January transfer window, despite their current lofty position in the SkyBet Championship table. 

Garry Monk’s side are third and unbeaten in seven games after a 1-0 victory over fellow promotion contenders Derby County at Elland Road on Friday night, which moved them eight points clear of seventh place.

Monk has already made the loan move for his former Swansea team-mate and creative playmaker Pablo Hernandez permanent from Qatar outfit Al Arabi this month.

But, identifying two key positions he feels the Yorkshire club need more cover, former Bradford and Everton winger Beagrie thinks more transfer activity is required if they are to maintain their promotion challenge.

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Transformation: The former Swansea boss has overseen a remarkable turnaround in west Yorkshire so far this season (Picture from Sky Sports)

Speaking before the game, when asked if they need further additions to the squad, Beagrie told Sky Sports: “Yes, I think so. We said before they need to get players who are going to improve this team – not players who are just going to come and be bit-part players.

“They’ve tried to get the loanees secured long-term or as long as possible, that’s happened to a degree, and I think they’ve identified centre-half has been a problem position if important players get injured, and a centre-forward as cover for [Chris] Wood as well.

“If he goes out of the equation I think promotion hopes do slip slightly.”

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Former player: Ex-midfielder Prutton scored four goals in 67 appearances for Leeds between 2007 and 2010 (Picture from Sky Sports)

Fellow pundit David Prutton also highlighted the significance of head coach Monk being able to continue to take care of football matters without interference from the club’s hierarchy.

The former Leeds midfielder said: “That’s fundamental to the way this club moves forward – that’s got to be maintained, letting him get on with the stuff that goes on within the borders of the white markers on the pitch is exactly what he was brought in for and what he’s good at.

“And leave the business to the people who know how to work businesses and maximise businesses.”

Leeds are currently without a number of first-team players through injury and suspension as they prepare for their next game against Yorkshire rivals Barnsley at Oakwell on January 21.

READ MORE: Local journalist’s insight into new Leeds United co-owner

SkyBet Championship: Local journalist’s insight into new Leeds United co-owner

Yorkshire Evening Post’s Phil Hay gives his thoughts on what Leeds United’s new Italian co-owner Andrea Radrizzani will bring to Elland Road.

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Joining forces: Cellino and Radrizzani will work together to take care of the running of the club – at least for now (Picture from Sky Sports)

It’s the start of yet another new era at Leeds United Football Club but one that may actually herald a brighter outlook for the immediate future. 

Italian businessman Andrea Radrizzani began life as the club’s new co-owner this week after acquiring a 50 per cent share from Massimo Cellino.

The 42-year-old met with head coach Garry Monk, the coaching staff and the players on the training ground for the first time on Thursday.

And he was in the stands at Elland Road on Friday night to witness the high-flying Yorkshire outfit move up to third in the Championship with a 1-0 win over fellow promotion contenders Derby County.

By following a team through thick and thin, day in day out, watching every game and attending every press conference, a local journalist can often be the font of all knowledge and opinion when it comes to a football club.

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Well-respected: Phil Hay has 96,000 followers on Twitter and regularly attends Leeds United matches (Picture from Sky Sports)

Phil Hay, chief football writer for the Yorkshire Evening Post, has been covering Leeds for many years.

Before the match against Derby, Sky Sports caught up with Hay, who gave his views on what the boardroom change may mean for Radrizzani, the club, Monk and Cellino.

Here is the interview in full…


On what to expect from Radrizzani:

“If you look at Radrizzani’s background and his business background, he’s been involved in and pretty much pursued right from the start of his career sports broadcasting and media rights – that is his specialism and his area of expertise.

“He is a very business-minded animal. I think people will hope that, aside from the football aspect of the business here, that commercially he will bring new ideas and new ways of working.

“On the football side, it’s his first taste of football club ownership and I think he knows himself that he has plenty to learn about that and I think, while he won’t be hands-off in the next six months, I think he’ll avoid being front and centre so he can get to grips with that and get a feel for how a club operates and works.”

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Negotiations: Radrizzani could also acquire Cellino’s remaining shares at the end of the current season (Picture from Sky Sports)

On relationship with Monk:

“Garry Monk seems very happy – he says he’s been impressed with him. He met with Monk and the squad on Thursday night, also with Monk for dinner on Wednesday evening, and it’s pretty clear already that Radrizzani is very happy with the job Monk is doing.

“There’s definite backing there and no question at all that Monk’s position is any less secure now than it was before the investment.”

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First: Monk is now the longest-serving manager since Cellino took over in April 2014 after being in charge since last June (Picture from Sky Sports)

On how it will work with co-owner Cellino:

“We’re told that it is a straight 50/50 split and in practice it will work like that – it is a straight division of authority. They will share the decision making – it’s an interesting dynamic and it is not in Cellino’s make-up generally, or hasn’t been in the past, to split authority like this.

“He very much intended at the outset to own 100% of this club but of course he has a Football Association ban pending as well, which potentially starts on February 1 and runs for 18 months.

“That’s significant from the point of view of how it will change things in the boardroom from the additional pressure it might ask of Radrizzani, so it remains to be seen I think that’s a question Radrizzani will answer himself.”

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Trouble ahead: Cellino, 60, was fined £250,000 and given a future ban last year for breaking FA regulations over the transfer of Ross McCormack in 2014 (Picture from Sky Sports)

On whether he will bring in extra money to invest in transfer window:

“I don’t think January will change significantly as a result of this deal. I think Garry Monk is very clear on the type of players he wanted, the number of players he wanted and, speaking to him a couple of times since the deal went through, that hasn’t really changed.

“I think he still knows who he wants, I think he still knows the positions that he wants to work in.

“It might help to get those deals done but I don’t we’ll go from a position of no money to a position of a huge amount of money – I think the budget is as it was.”

READ MORE: Peter Beagrie – Leeds need to strengthen in transfer window