THE Celtic players who have secured the moves to the Barclays Premier League they have hankered after in recent years have all, to a man, joined clubs in the middle or lower reaches of the table.

Fraser Forster, Virgil van Dijk and Victor Wanyama may well have left for sizeable transfer fees which meant that Celtic made considerable profits on each one of them. But they were all signed by Southampton.

Elsewhere, Ki Sung-yueng is currently helping Swansea City battle for their top flight survival while Gary Hooper ended up at Norwich City who were relegated at the end of his first season.

Read more: Cristian Gamboa: The secret of Celtic's record-breaking run under Brendan Rodgers is having a strong squad

Moussa Dembele, though, is different. The French striker, who took his haul of goals for the season to 29 with a double in the 2-0 win over Hamilton on Saturday, has been widely tipped to end up at a top six club down south this summer despite the quality of the league he is currently plying his trade in.

The fevered online speculation about Dembele joining Chelsea in the January transfer window proved inaccurate – the player had only flown to London for a scan on a knee injury - but rumours about a £30 million switch to Stamford Bridge in the close season persist. With good reason.

Brendan Rodgers’s side would doubtless have found a way to wear down the dogged resistance of a Hamilton team which responded well to dropping to the foot of the Ladbrokes Premiership at the weekend and produced a tenacious display without the assistance of their leading scorer.

Stuart Armstrong should really have put his side in front in the first half after Kieran Tierney had teed him up. The midfielder somehow, with an empty net beckoning invitingly, struck the crossbar from just a few yards out. It was one of the worst misses of the season.

But Dembele, once again, made the difference for Celtic. He scored a wonderful individual effort from outside the visitors’ area just before half-time and then buried a penalty – the eighth time he has netted from the spot during the 2016/17 campaign – in the second-half.

Read more: Cristian Gamboa: The secret of Celtic's record-breaking run under Brendan Rodgers is having a strong squad

His team mate Cristian Gamboa, who deputised for the injured Mikael Lustig at wing back at the weekend, played in the Premier League down south with West Bromwich Albion before moving to Glasgow.

He has no doubts about the level the 20-year-old is capable of playing at in England or further afield and stressed the hefty price tag which has been slapped on his young “amigo” as a result of his goalscoring exploits in the last seven months is entirely justified.

Questioned about whether he could play for one of the top six clubs in England, Gamboa said: “One hundred per cent he can do it. He can go to Real Madrid or wherever he wants. He is a top player. The first goal he scored on Saturday was world class.”

“He is key for Celtic. He has had a really good season. He is on fire. Whenever he shoots he is going to score. When you have a player like this he has to be in the team. I think he is showing everyone he deserves the price that has been put on him.”

Asked if he was really worth £30 million, he added: “I’d give you £50 million for him - but I don’t have the money! Seriously, though, he can go wherever he wants. He has to decide, the club have to decide. It is his decision.”

Gamboa, the Costa Rican internationalist who once again showed why Rodgers sanctioned his £1 million signing back in August with an assured display against Hamilton, believes Dembele can improve significantly in the future.

Read more: Cristian Gamboa: The secret of Celtic's record-breaking run under Brendan Rodgers is having a strong squad

“The age he is, just 20, means there is a lot that he still has to do,” he said. “Just imagine what he’s going to be like when he’s 25, when he is a more mature player and he has more experience. I think he will be really good, better than he is just now.

“But he is having a really good season for Celtic. It is good for Celtic and it is good for us as a group. He may go to another club, but just now he is here until at least the end of the season so we should enjoy his football and his goals.”

The Celtic supporters who gave Dembele a rousing ovation as he was substituted against Hamilton at the weekend are certainly savouring every moment he features for their team.

His brace extended Celtic’s unbeaten domestic start to the season to 32 games – just three short of the all-time record set by their predecessors in the 1916/17 season. His goals also stretched their run of consecutive league wins to 21 – just four shy of the 25 straight triumphs which Celtic recorded in the 2003/04 campaign.

The only occasion that Rodgers’s side has failed to win a domestic fixture this term was in a league game against Inverness Caledonian Thistle up in the Highlands back in September.

That was Gamboa’s first appearance in Scotland – he had been involved in the 7-0 thrashing at the hands of Barcelona in a Champions League game over in Spain earlier that same week – but he denied that his team would have a point to prove when they return their on Wednesday evening.

“We’re not thinking about revenge,” he said. “We just want the three points as we aim to be top of the table at the end of the season.

“I think it’s football. Sometimes it can happen that you draw. After that Inverness game we realised we had to work harder. Since then we’ve been on our run. It was the only game we drew but we have kept a good run going ever since.”