Forgotten wonderkid dubbed 'Messi's heir' who Chelsea and Man City fought over at 13 signs for League One club | The Sun

A FORGOTTEN wonderkid who was once dubbed "Messi's heir" has signed for League One side Blackpool.

Karamoko Dembele, 20, was the talk of football when he was coming through the ranks at Celtic and made his debut for the club's under-20s side when he was just THIRTEEN.

He would go on to make his full first team debut at Celtic Park when he was still only 16 years old.

The winger also had both Scotland and England fighting to have him declare for them and he represented both sides at youth level – although he has not declared for either country yet.

And Chelsea and Manchester City were also scrapping for his signature after he burst on the scene.

The winger, who was born in London, joined Celtic when he was just 10 years old and regularly scooped up awards at both academy and youth team level – with the expectation that he would go on to become a first team regular at Celtic Park.


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His former youth team coach David Feeney said in 2016: "I think he is very similar to Lionel Messi. If he has the right guidance, then the sky is the limit for him.

However, after making his debut for the club in the 2018-19 season, the 5ft5 winger never really managed to kick on at senior level – with injuries being a major factor.

He would go on to make just eight further appearances for The Hoops, all of them cameos from the bench before joining Ligue 1 side Brest in 2022.

Dembele made 17 appearances in his first season at the club, again largely being cameos from the bench.

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But last season he featured just once in all competitions for the club.

A move to Blackpool represents an opportunity for the youngster to revive his career.

Still only 20, a move down the football pyramid from Ligue 1 to English football's League One will give him the opportunity to gain the minutes he desperately needs to develop.

After the club unveiled his signing on Twitter, it is fair to say that Blackpool fans still believe he can come good on his potential.

One fan said: "If he’s as good as he was on my Football Manager we are winning the league ladies and gents."

Another added: "Promising young player, shame it’s a loan but should definitely add something if played in the correct position. Let’s hope this leads to a change in formation. Good luck to the lad."

While a third wrote: "Let us hope this is the maverick type player we badly need."

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