Does Richmond Boakye interest hint at 2018 exit for Celtic's Moussa Dembele?

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers celebrates at full time during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Heart of Midlothian at Celtic Park Stadium on January 29, 2017 in...

Brendan Rodgers admitted that Dembele was likely to leave Celtic next year - but, in Boakye, The Hoops may already have a replacement in mind.

Moussa Dembele of Celtic celebrates after scoring Celtic's 3rd goal from the penalty spot during the Betfred Cup Final between Aberdeen FC and Celtic FC at Hampden Park on November 27,...

Considering that Celtic have lost so many of their key players in recent years, Brendan Rodgers’ side deserve a round of applause for managing to hang onto Moussa Dembele during a summer in which barely a day went by without the striker being tipped to depart.

Celtic landed Dembele from Fulham for as little as a £500,000 compensation fee in 2016 when his contract expired at Craven Cottage, per the BBC. After netting 32 times in a stunning debut season in Scotland, however, the Frenchman’s value skyrocketed.

Countless clubs across Europe were credited with an interest with The Sun reporting in June that (deep breath) Everton, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, Dortmund, Juventus, AC Milan, Bayern Munich and Barcelona were all tracking Dembele’s development.

Moussa Dembele (C) of Celtic celebrates scoring his team's first goal with his team mates Mikael Lustig (L) and Erik Sviatchenko (R) during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match between...

Keeping the 21-year-old for more than one season was certainly something of a coup. Managing to retain Dembele for more than one, however, is easier said than done.

Looking ahead

If the striker replicates his excellent debut season, interest will intensify. Rodgers knows that and even admitted back in March that he can’t see Dembele in green-and-white beyond the summer of 2018.

“I believed when Moussa came that he probably had two-year cycle,” the manager stated in quotes reported by The Express. “He needs another year of Champions League experience and the confidence of scoring goals and playing for such a big club, and probably then it’ll be time to fly.”

Perhaps this explains why Celtic are running the rule over Richmond Boakye then, per The Mail. The Ghanaian striker has been in stunning form since moving to Red Star Belgrade in January and has 31 goals for club and country in 2017 alone.

Crvena Zvezda's forward Richmond Boakye (L) vies with Bate's defender Denis Polyakov during the UEFA Europa League match between FK Crvena Zvezda Beograd and Bate Borisov at the Rajko...

Boakye, however, is valued at £10 million – a fee that would make him Celtic’s most expensive player of all time. With the Scottish Champions expected to make at least £30 million from the future sale of Dembele, however, they could have the funds to bring Boakye to Parkhead.

Celtic are the masters at recovering from losing a key player and it appears they may already have a replacement for Dembele in mind.

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