Neil Lennon has confirmed that Celtic have rejected an offer from Gillingham to take Karamoko Dembele on loan.
The winger turns 17 next week with the hoops boss believing that his development is best served in-house over the remainder of this season.
Dembele has made two substitute appearances this season- away to Cluj in December and last Saturday at home to Ross County- and is the star player in the Celtic Academy after making a brief reserve team appearance as a 13-year-old.
Guiding him through to first team football is the big challenge but that won’t be happening via Gillingham.
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Asked about the Gillingham enquiry Lennon said:
They made an enquiry about Karamoko and it was turned down. I think this is the best place for him. We know of his capabilities; we know of his talent.
We are very excited about hm but he is just going to turn 17 soon. We have to protect him and we have a duty of care with him in terms of his development but we want it here.
Asked if he expected the teenager to get more game time towards the end of the season the Celtic boss added:
Towards the end of the season, possibly but we’ll have to see how it goes.
Recent reserve team appearances against Chelsea and Huddersfield have given English clubs a live update on the highly talented winger.
Karamoko is under contract with Celtic until the end of next season with the club doing everything to ensure that he fulfils the potential that was brought to a global audience through social media.
It is less than a year since he made his reserve team debut, shortly after his 16th birthday.