The France under-21 international left the Scottish Premiership champions to join Lyon in a transfer worth an initial £18million with a further £2.5m in add-ons yesterday.
Despite receiving a club-record fee for his sale, the deal serves as a huge blow to the Hoops, who lose a player who scored 51 goals in 94 appearances at Parkhead and helped them to unprecedented back-to-back domestic trebles.
The ex-Fulham trainee’s exit leaves Celtic with just two senior strikers in Leigh Griffiths and Odsonne Edouard, both of whom suffered injury issues last season.
Rodgers had long declared that Celtic would not sell a player as important as Dembele but eventually relented last night with Dembele having demonstrated via social media his desire to leave the Glasgow outfit.
And Rodgers was forced to remove the 22-year-old striker from training yesterday, revealing that his attitude wasn’t as expected at Lennoxtown.
The Northern Irishman said: “He came in to report for work with his team-mates and, very early on, it became fussballtrikots clear he wasn’t up to the expectations we [require players to] meet for training.
“It is best not to work if he is still not quite right; it was best for him to get inside.
“It doesn’t matter, to be honest. The rest of the players trained very well. We had recovering players from last night and the two new guys [Youssouf Mulumbu and Filip Benkovic] came in and fitted in very well.
“My job is to protect the environment and how we work.”
Dembele was upset about Celtic having rejected a bid from Lyon earlier in the week although still featured in their 3-0 defeat of FK Suduva to book their place in the Europa League group stages on Thursday night.
The player hit out at Rodgers on social media the same night, sharing a picture on Twitter that read: ‘A man, without his word, is nothing. A real man keeps is word.”
He then tweeted in the early hours of Friday morning: “Don’t get it wrong Bhoys and Ghirls nothing to do with people who really care about the club @CelticFC too much love and respect for you and the crest#CarefulWhoYouCallTheLeaderOfYours.”
That was alongside another image that read: ‘A lie has many variations, the truth none.”
And Dembele liked several tweets from Celtic fans indicating that his frustrations were aimed at Rodgers and chief executive Peter Lawwell.
One of his likes included a tweet from Get French Football News which read: “Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers told Moussa Dembele in the January window that Brighton was a better club than Celtic & tried to convince the Frenchman to join then bottom of the table West Brom, sources tell Get French Football News.”
Others included hints that Dembele and Rodgers or Lawwell had made a verbal agreement to allow him to leave, but Rodgers himself denied such a suggestion.
“Every decision we make at Celtic will always be in the best interests of the club and teil des fußballtrikots our supporters,” he said in an official statement.
“It is vital to make clear that we have never promised any player that he can leave the club at a particular time. It has never happened.
“In fact, we have said all along that we did not wish to sell Moussa, given the circumstances within the transfer window and that is why we rejected a significant offer yesterday.
“However, this particular decision to accept this offer has been taken in order to serve the best interests of the first-team squad, my coaching team and the culture and environment we have created in these last two seasons.
“The board and myself are united and they have been very supportive to me on this issue.”
The late transfer window drama has proved an unwelcome distraction for Celtic as they prepare for the first Old Firm derby of the season against Rangers – who are unbeaten in 12 matches under Steven Gerrard – tomorrow (12pm).
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