With Barcelona visiting Glasgow this week there is one player in the Celtic side that will have special attention paid to him- Moussa Dembele.
Since scoring twice against Manchester City in September the Frenchman has been transformed from just another young prospect into a serious contender.
At 20-year-of-age he is entitled to an off night but after a quiet performance at home to Borussia Monchengladbach he was back to his very best in the 1-1 draw in Germany.
Dembele was virtually unplayable for the Borussia defenders with only the generosity of the referee limiting the damage he inflicted on the Germans.
As Kris Boyd knows only too well no one really notices or cares about goals scored in Scotland, scoring in the Champions League however is watched closely.
With Celtic drawn in the toughest Champions League group expectations were limited. With three goals from four matches coupled with two outstanding performances Dembele is very much on the radar of the very top clubs.
When he leaves Celtic it won’t be for some middling Premier League outfit. Dembele chose Celtic ahead of other offers because there was the prospect of Champions League football- when he leaves Glasgow that will be essential.
On Wednesday night Dembele will be watched as closely as any of the superstars in the visitors line-up, if his career continues to develop at the current rate it’s only a matter of time before he is playing with or against Barcelona and Manchester City on a regular basis.
THE BEST OF THE 96ERS
For his age Dembele is the most prolific goalscorer in the Champions League. Last year Manchester United paid £30m to Monaco for Anthony Martial who has scored twice in 13 Champions League match. Dembele has three goals from four appearances.
Kingsley Coman of Bayern Munich has scored twice in 11 appearances, Guedes Goncalo of Benfica has the same stats as Coman while Maxwel Cornet of Lyon is closest to Dembele with two goals from eight appearances.
With stats like that every major club is taking notice, especially with the quality of opponents Dembele is scoring against.
If Dembele retains anything like his current form he can expect to be included in the French squad for the spring internationals.
Didier Deschamps is well aware of Dembele with his double against the English u21 side in midweek which simply confirmed the ability he has.
Having been capped at every level it is only a matter of time before he picks up his first full international cap.
THE BIG STAGE
Despite the impoverished state of the tribute act scoring in the Glasgow derby generates more attention and publicity than in any other domestic fixture.
The quality of Dembele’s hat-trick against Mark Warburton’s side in September was that of a top class striker- one that can convert from various situations.
Adding icing to the cake his goal in the Betfred Cup semi-final against Sevco had every quality that any manager is looking for. Perseverance, anticipation, confidence and conviction as his heel flicked the ball into the net in the 88th minute.
Only Thierry Henry, Karin Benzema, Yakuba and Alessandro del Piero have been more prolific than Dembele before the age of 21. Nice company to keep.
Henry scored seven times in nine Champions League matches, del Piero managed four out of four, Yakuba five in five and Benzema 12 in 17 games although two of those goals were against a team managed by Walter Smith.
Dembele has two more matches before he hits the age of 21, scoring in either match will do his reputation no harm.
Any club looking at Dembele won’t have to worry about his ability to settle. At the age of 17 he left France for Fulham, just before his 20th birthday he upped sticks for Glasgow and has quickly settled into life at Celtic and got on with his job.
There’s an unusual air of maturity about Dembele that allows him to take change in his stride and just get on with playing the game to the best of his ability.
These days clubs do extensive background checks into potential signings. As well as being grounded Dembele’s agent seems more interested in his clients career development than a quick commission.