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Former Celtic ace in outstanding form with 9 goals in 9 games for new club

Moussa Dembele, when leaving Lyon for Saudi Arabian outfit Al-Ettifaq over the summer, obviously felt it was more than a little churlish to suggest that the money on offer in the Middle East had not come into his thinking. 

“All professional choices are oriented with the aim of earning more money,” the former Celtic hero explains, via the Daily Record. “It’s part of professional development. Earn more money and thrive.  

“There will always be those who want to give me lessons. But even in the media, people move for more money. The more I earn, the more I give. There is my parents’ village in Mali where I plan to develop many things to make the lives of the people there more pleasant.” 

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Moussa Dembele’s performances while leading the line for Steven Gerrard’s Al-Ettifaq outfit, however, are not those of a money-grabbing mercenary with dollar signs flashing in his eyes. Dembele, a prolific goalscorer at Celtic before his £20 million move to France, has embraced life in Saudi Arabia, relishing the chance to go head-to-head with Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Aleksandr Mitrovic, Sadio Mane and co for a highly-coveted Golden Boot award. 

Former Celtic striker Moussa Dembele in top form

With nine goals in nine games – and seven in eight Pro League apperances – Dembele is certainly establishing himself among the early frontrunners. Only Cristiano Ronaldo (who else?) has more so far.

Maintain his current form over the coming months and Dembele may soon be on track to make this his most prolific season since that outstanding 2016/17 campaign at Celtic, the Frenchman firing Brendan Rodgers’ side to a domestic treble with 32 goals in all competitions. 

“I love working with Steven Gerrard,” adds Dembele, who’s Al-Ettifaq team-mates include Jordan Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum and ex-Celtic defender Jack Hendry.

“I spoke to him on the phone, and he explained to me that I was his number one choice in attack. We talked about tactics and how he wanted to play and use me and it clicked straight away. 

Shining in Saudi Arabia

Al-Ettifaq v DAMAQ -  Saudi Pro League
Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images

“Our relations are excellent,” Dembele adds. “He’s a football legend and he knows what he wants. He has a culture of winning which reminds me a lot of what I knew in England at Fulham, then at Celtic and Atletico Madrid with Diego Simeone. My life is excellent. The quality and living environment are superb.  

“The people are warm, friendly and respectful. Frankly, I am very fulfilled.”

After a COVID-ruined loan spell at Atletico, after a mixed time at Lyon, Dembele’s unlikely partnership with a former Rangers boss is already reaping rich rewards, and we’re not just referring to the size of his contract.

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