Few 13-year-old footballers in the world currently have a bigger reputation than Karamoko Dembele.
Since going viral on social media last month - because of a photo which showed the diminutive forward playing for Celtic’s Under-20 side against Hearts - it’s since emerged that most of Europe’s top clubs are keeping tabs on the gifted teenager including Manchester United, Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
Dembele hit the headlines again this week after he made his debut for Scotland’s Under-16 side, coming on as a second-half substitute, and he earned praise from the team’s head coach Brian McLaughlin.
"He was excellent," McLaughlin was quoted as saying by BBC Sport. "He looked confident and it's a very good group to come into."
He added: "We just felt this was the right time to introduce that young boy on to the pitch.”
Why Barcelona decided not to sign Dembele
Interest in Dembele from Europe’s heavyweights will keep growing if he continues catching the eye, although it’s now emerged that Barça took the decision not to sign the youngster before he became famous.
According to Catalan newspaper Sport, the Spanish champions decided not to sign Dembele to avoid encountering further problems with FIFA.
Barcelona’s scouts reportedly had Dembele firmly on their radar just over a year ago and were in contact with his representatives, convinced this was a youngster with the potential to become a future star.
Dembele 'wanted' Barcelona move
Moreover, Dembele was apparently ready to play for Barcelona, with all the scouting and hard work already complete.
But the Catalan giants, having been previously handed a transfer ban after breaching registration rules regarding the signing of players under the age of 18, decided bringing Dembele to the Camp Nou wasn’t worth the risk.
Can Celtic hold onto him?
Celtic now won’t let any club close to the player, but how long will they be able to hold onto him for?
The teen star is wanted by both Manchester clubs while there’s every chance, if he continues developing at his current rate, that Barcelona will return in the future.
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