‘Brown could’ve played in my Liver­pool team’

The Herald - Herald Sport - - LADBROKES PREMIERSHIP - MATTHEW LIND­SAY

N in­evitable con­se­quence of a player performing well for Celtic is that clubs in Eng­land will at­tempt to lure him away with the of­fer of far higher wages. In re­cent years, Fraser Forster, Gary Hooper, Ki Sung-Yueng, Vir­gil van Dijk and Vic­tor Wanyama have all jumped at moves after multi-mil­lion pound fees were re­ceived.

It seems likely that Moussa Dem­bele, who scored his 15th goal in 21 ap­pear­ances in the 4-0 win over Ross County on Wed­nes­day night, will be the lat­est star to take that well-trod­den path.

A Manch­ester United scout was at the Global En­ergy Arena watch­ing the 20-year-old and it will be lit­tle sur­prise if the Old Traf­ford club, or one of their Bar­clays Premier League ri­vals, ta­bles a bid ei­ther in Jan­uary or next sum­mer.

Bren­dan Rodgers, though, is hope­ful the French cen­tre for­ward will re­alise the ben­e­fit of stay­ing at Park­head for the fore­see­able fu­ture at least.

The fact that Scott Brown, the Park­head club’s tal­is­manic cap­tain, has stayed for nine years de­spite in­ter­mit­tent in­ter­est from Eng­land also gives him hope that he can keep the nu­cleus of his squad to­gether de­spite the money on of­fer else­where.

Rodgers be­lieves that Brown would have flour­ished down south. In­deed, he feels the mid­fielder would have been good enough to fea­ture in the Liver­pool team which came close to win­ning the English ti­tle un­der him two years ago. “Scott is some­one I’ve been so im­pressed with since I first met him in my house ear­lier on in the sea­son,” he said.

“He’s just re­ally de­voted him­self to how I’ve wanted the team to op­er­ate on the field and off it. If he has played at a bet­ter level than he’s at just now, both phys­i­cally and tac­ti­cally, then I’d be sur­prised.

“The big­gest com­pli­ment I can give him is that, hav­ing worked in what is sup­pos­edly the best league in the world in terms of be­ing the most com­pet­i­tive league in the world, Scott Brown would def­i­nitely have been in my Liver­pool team that nearly won the ti­tle.

“There’s no doubt about that – so that’s the level that the guy is at as a player and as a cap­tain. You want him on your team and on your side. It’s the big­gest ac­co­lade that I can give him. But thank­fully he’s cho­sen to play nearly 10 years at Celtic and still looks as strong and fit.”

Rodgers added: “I think there was in­ter­est in Scott from Eng­land. I re­mem­ber Harry Red­knapp at Tot­ten­ham want­ing to take him there, Harry told me that. There’s no doubt he’s had moves where he could’ve left here. But he was happy in his life and happy here at Celtic.

“If money’s not the con­sid­er­a­tion, and no one can deny any player or any per­son the chance to con­sider dou­bling or tre­bling your salary, then other things come into it.

“Scott’s al­ways been happy here and the sup­port­ers love him, they see his worth and prob­a­bly even more at this stage. So he can cer­tainly re­tire in the com­fort that he could prob­a­bly have played in that league and at the big­gest level.

“But he’s happy and that’s the most im­por­tant thing in life.”

Asked if he feared his play­ers like Dem­bele would leave as a re­sult of their im­pres­sive form for Celtic this term, Rodgers said: “Ab­so­lutely, there’s that fear. There’s a lot of talk around a lot of the play­ers.

“But I think they know they’re part of some­thing spe­cial as well. Young guys like Moussa have come up here at 19, and they knew why they were com­ing. They knew they were com­ing into a coach­ing en­vi­ron­ment at a huge club which is go­ing to ex­tend them and test them un­der pres­sure. So, he’s lov­ing and en­joy­ing ev­ery minute of it.

“Boys like Scott Sin­clair, with a Premier League back­ground, he’s come up here and he’s re­ally happy. Some of th­ese guys will tell you, es­pe­cially those ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers who have been un­happy, that means ev­ery­thing. It’s a club that is a real priv­i­lege to ei­ther man­age or play for. The boys are find­ing that out.

“But, of course, it’s go­ing to be the case there will al­ways be in­ter­est round very good play­ers.

“But what we have to do is cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment that they ab­so­lutely love and for the length of time they are here max­imise what we get out of them.

“If they move on then also en­sure that the club ben­e­fits from it. Then we have to have a process in place here in bring­ing in play­ers con­sis­tently, so if we lose one we bring in an­other one, if not a bet­ter one.”

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