Chelsea have been told they must match Moussa Dembele's reported £40m release clause if they have any ambition of luring Celtic's leading striker to Stamford Bridge on the final day of the January transfer window. The 20-year-old has netted 20 goals in all competitions this term for a Bhoys side who have gone a record 27 games unbeaten in the Scottish Premiership – and as a result is attracting interest south of the border.
The Daily Express understands the Blues have submitted a £34m bid for Dembele in an attempt to bring the forward to the Premier League. Celtic however are standing by their valuation of the marksman, which is closer to £40m, and will only part ways with the ex-Fulham forward if their terms are matched.
No player has scored more goals in the English Premier League than Chelsea's Diego Costa, who has been recently re-integrated into the first team amid speculation over a move to China and a falling out with a member of manager Antonio Conte's coaching team, and there are fears the Spaniard could become disillusioned once again before the end of the campaign. The west London club have an eight-point lead at the top of the table but the addition of Dembele would strengthen their grip on the title.
But should Chelsea have any realistic hope of bringing Dembele back to the English game then they must match Celtic's demands on deadline day. Manager Brendan Rodgers is confident none of his record-breaking squad will leave Celtic Park but has suggested that every player has his price.
"We're in total control," he said, according to The Herald. "There's no drama. I don't think we'll get in what we want to get in. But we've got a great squad of players here. Don't get me wrong, I wanted to strengthen in January. I want to improve the team but only when the right players become available and I just don't think it's going to be."
But Rodgers is far more adamant over the future of goalkeeper Craig Gordon, who he says is "guaranteed" to start the league game at home to Aberdeen on Wednesday [1 February] in the green and white of Celtic. Record Sport understand Chelsea want to quadruple the Scotland international's current wages to £50,000-a-week, after a £2.5m bid was rebuffed last week, but Rodgers insists no deal will be concluded.
"If there's another bid you know more than me," he added. "For me it's always been clear. Craig will be here, he will be in goal on Wednesday night and we want to get him signed up on a new deal, simple as that.
"There are two parts to it. You can only speak to someone if another club meets a valuation of what a player is maybe worth. You don't willy-nilly let a player go and talk to them. It doesn't work like that. But the stance is the same. We don't want to lose him.
"I've been brought in to lead the club, look after the football side, and help manage the club. So my job is to protect the club and to build the best team I possible can and that means keeping Craig Gordon. Craig will be in goal on Wednesday night, I guarantee you."