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Wonderkid likened to Lionel Messi at the age of 16 told to leave current club five years later

Wonderkid likened to Lionel Messi at the age of 16 told to leave current club five years later

The player made his senior debut at the age of just 16.

Former Celtic wonderkid Karamoko Dembele - who was likened to Lionel Messi at the age of 16 - will depart French club Brest this summer.

Dembele, who has represented Scotland and England at youth level, joined Celtic's academy when he was 10 years old.

At the age of 13, Dembele was called up to the senior squad by Brendan Rodgers to take part in a training session, and later appeared as a late substitute in a Celtic under-20 fixture.

After making his senior debut at the age of 16 in 2019, Dembele was described by French outlet L'Equipe as one of six 'outstanding young players set to revolutionise the game'.

But the winger didn't quite kick on as he would have hoped for after that, and made just 10 appearances in total for Celtic before leaving on a free transfer in the summer of 2022.

He subsequently signed for Brest, and made 15 Ligue 1 appearances without scoring in his first season.

Dembele moved to League One side Blackpool on loan for the 2023/24 season, and quickly became one of the Seasiders' key players.

He scored nine goals and registered 14 assists in all competitions, including a player of the match performance as Blackpool thrashed eventual champions Portsmouth 4-0 at Fratton Park in November.

Blackpool boss Neil Critchley - formerly in charge of the academy at Liverpool - praised Dembele's contributions in March and described him as 'a brilliant footballer'.

He told the Blackpool Gazette: "I love watching him play. He's exciting, he's something different in this league.

"He's really courageous, he takes the ball into any area of the pitch and backs himself - he's got real bravery.

"We obviously want to keep good players and bring them to the football club - Kaddy is obviously one of them, but it's not always us and what we want, players and agents have their thoughts and ideas as well."

Karamoko Dembele in action for Blackpool against Portsmouth (

The Lancashire club missed out on the League One play-offs on the final day, with Dembele originally expected to return to his parent club.

Dembele is contracted to Brest until the summer of 2026, but the French side's sporting director has taken the unusual step of confirming that the 21-year-old will not return to the club, as per L'Equipe.

Brest have qualified for the Champions League next season for the first time in the club's history, but Dembele is not in their plans.

The winger has been linked with a move to the Championship, with Bristol City and newly-promoted Derby said to be interested.

However, Brest are believed to value Dembele at the lower end of a seven-figure sum, which may make sealing a deal challenging.

Featured Image Credit: Getty

Topics: Celtic, Ligue 1, League One, Champions League, Transfers, Football