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Why Chelsea and Manchester United love Moussa Dembele... but France doesn't

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Why Chelsea and Manchester United love Moussa Dembele... but France doesn't: He's homegrown in Britain and battles hard as well as banging in the goals, so a Premier League move looks to be a matter of timeMoussa Dembele is being eyed by a number of top Premier League sides The striker has been well known in British circles since he was a young player Lyon are not keen to sell him this window as they think his value can still rise Dembele is thought to be as comfortable in Britain as he is in his native France 

Even if Chelsea do not push through a move for Moussa Dembele during this transfer window, it is fair to say they are happy to play the waiting game.

After all, they first cottoned onto his talents when he was 15 years old and in the academy at PSG. They have been scouting him, on and off, ever since.

Chelsea are not unique. A lot of English sides have had a long-term interest in Dembele. He has long been well-known in British football circles since a season at Fulham at youth level when he scored 50 goals in 49 games.

Moussa Dembele has attracted the eye of top sides across Europe in recent campaigns

The striker would feel comfortable moving back to Britain given his years with Fulham

He also spent time with Celtic, where he won the treble twice under Brendan Rodgers

This season the interest has ramped up. Chelsea made him a target for the January window as they look to reconstruct their squad after their transfer ban.

Manchester United are also keen on Dembele, while Manchester City took time to watch him in the recent game against Bordeaux, when he scored the winner.

It might be difficult to prise him from Lyon this window. Jean-Michel Aulas has repeatedly insisted that he does not want the 23-year-old to leave and Sportsmail understands that is a genuine viewpoint rather than a bargaining tactic.

That would change if a club came in with an offer that was simply too large to turn down but no one has made a bid like that yet and they are unlikely to in this window.

Lyon have insisted that they do not want to sell Dembele during the January transfer window

It is not thought to be a bargaining tactic by Lyon, who believe his value could rise in the future

There is also a view at Lyon that Dembele's real value could yet rise. He has scored 12 goals in Ligue 1 yet behind the scenes some think that figure has been held back by his team-mates failing to play him the ball in the right areas.

He is also yet to be handed a senior cap by France, something that would increase the price they could demand for him.

There is a growing sense that he is not valued in France to the same extent as he would be elsewhere. France are not blessed with natural No 9s but there does not seem to be much appreciation for Dembele's skill set in the country.

Whenever an international break comes around, there are few in the French press who say he should be called up despite the team lacking pure strikers — barring Olivier Giroud. It is seen as especially ridiculous considering he was top scorer in the league last time Didier Deschamps named his squad.

Dembele is yet to be capped by manager Didier Deschamps and the France senior side

There seems to be a difference in what is appreciated in France. He is a battler on the pitch, works to stretch defences and will scrap and fight to keep the ball — the sort of play that British fans expect from a striker that goes unnoticed elsewhere.

That is reflected in the player's off-pitch outlook. To a large extent, Dembele is comfortable with the culture in Britain. He spent six years in the country, joining Fulham in 2012 before moving to Celtic, where he won the treble twice.

He met some of his best friends while he was based in London with Fulham and recreated something resembling a home life there. 

Even at a young age with Fulham he showed he was designed for the English game. He played 60 games between the ages of 17 and 19. During his full season in the Championship he was involved in 32 per cent of their goals, helping them stay up alongside Ross McCormack. 

Dembele celebrating after scoring for Fulham in the FA Youth Cup against Chelsea in 2014

He has developed over the years too. Dembele now works with a personal coach, watches his diet and has been following a personalised training regime to improve as much as he can as a player.

It has been working for him. He is the second-top scorer in Ligue 1 over the last season and a half - behind only Kylian Mbappe - and has managed the fifth-most shots on target.

He has caught the eye of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who recently told Sportsmail: 'I know Moussa quite well. I faced him when I was QPR manager, he played ever so well and killed my defence. 

'He has developed himself extremely well. He went to Celtic and played at a big club where the atmosphere and the pressure is there of winning. You have to win every match. 

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is a fan of the striker and has been following his development closely

'Having already tasted that and gone through that pressure, and if Chelsea buy him, he is familiar with that. When you are at Chelsea, you have to be able to handle the pressure of winning things and he has shown at Celtic he can do that. 

'More importantly, he is a killer. He is a goalscorer. He lives for goals. He scores goals in different ways, with his head, with his feet, left and right. He is quick, he is strong, he can still improve, he is still very young.'

Hasselbaink also praised his attitude, adding: 'He played for years at Fulham, so knows the area. The majority of players who come from the continent, especially from France, need that time to adjust. He has already been through that process. He knows the English life.

'Also his temperament is very, very good. You never hear bad things about him out of the group.'

Dembele is thought to be watched by around seven scouts from top sides every week

Sportsmail understands on an average matchday he is watched by between five and seven talent-spotters from top sides across Europe.

Yet England seems a natural destination for him. He is homegrown in the country - meaning he does not have to be registered as a foreign player for European football or the Premier League. 

That is of real value to teams dealing with Champions League football and the uncertainty around Brexit.

Which is another reason why Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and the like all have him on their lists. 

Even if he does not move this month, do not be surprised to see him finally make the switch to the Premier League sooner rather than later.


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