BOTH were virtually unknown before they arrived in Scotland, both were signed for nominal fees and both have scored goals which are indelibly seared in Celtic fans’ memory banks.
But Lubomir Moravcik, who went on to become an all-time Parkhead great after joining from Duisburg for just £300,000 in 1998, believes that Moussa Dembele, who was picked up for £500,000 from Fulham last summer, is a far better acquisition.
“Dembele is big value because he is much younger than I was and he can be sold,” said Moravcik, who returned to Glasgow at the weekend to captain a “Lubo’s Legends” team in the Celtic Charity Foundation match, of a player who has been valued at £40 million as a result of his scoring exploits this term.
The Slovakian midfield magician netted a stunning goal ¬– the only kind he knows how to – against “Henrik’s Heroes” in the second half of the exhibition match at Celtic Park despite now being the grand old age of 52.
But he has been more impressed with the quality of strikes which Dembele has banged in, not least against Rangers, with astonishing regularity during the 2016/17 campaign having watched them online in his homeland.
“It is fantastic,” he said. “It is a very good story. I have watched highlights of his goals on You Tube. There are plenty of them as he has scored 32 times. He has scored great goals, better than mine. His goals have been fantastic, in the top corner, everything. He is a fantastic player.”
Moravcik feels, despite the obvious similarities between himself and Dembele, the French striker can be compared to his predecessor Henrik Larsson.
The Swede’s career blossomed at Celtic after a difficult time at Feyenoord and he scored freely during seven unforgettable seasons in Scotland before going on to win the Champions League with Barcelona and play for Manchester United.
His former team mate hopes Dembele, who is still just 20, follows Larsson’s lead and resists the temptation to move to a club in a bigger league elsewhere in Europe in the near future.
“I don’t know why Dembele didn’t have a good time at Fulham,” he said. “But Henrik also came from Feyenoord after a difficult time and exploded here. After that, he was very good at big clubs, Barcelona and Manchester United.
“That is maybe a better comparison than me because Henrik was also very young when he came here. He came through here and went on to win the Champions League. I think it is a similar situation with Dembele now.”
“I hope Moussa will stay another couple of seasons and score a lot of goals for Celtic. After that? Who knows? He will maybe get an offer from another big club in a bigger league. But I think playing against good clubs at a higher level in the Champions League is maybe the best thing for him now. It will be good for him to test himself at that level.”
Brendan Rodgers, who has brought the best out in Dembele since being appointed Celtic manager last summer, has revealed how Dembele’s sudden rise to prominence in the past 10 months has resulted in the agents of many promising young players contacting him about the possibility of their clients moving to Parkhead.
Moravcik feels that Rodgers’s treble winners will not experiencing any difficulty recruiting more exciting young prospects in the coming months as they seek to build on their historic campaign.
“I think he has been a good example for young players,” he said. “He has shown them that it is a good idea to come to Celtic and play in this league. It is may be easier to score goals here at the beginning of your career than it is in England or other bigger leagues. The Scottish league is good and Celtic is a big club with fantastic fans. It is a pleasure to play here. Sometimes you find a player who explodes here.”
Moravcik has also enjoyed watching Scott Sinclair, who scooped the PFA Scotland, Scottish Football Writers’ Association and Ladbrokes Premiership Player of the Year, since the winger arrived from Aston Villa in a £3.5 million transfer in the summer.
“Sinclair was another good signing,” he said. “It is good to see the team play good football and score a lot of goals.”
Source : HeraldScotland