Hughton denies talk of Brighton bid for Dembele
Chris Hughton has “categorically” dismissed rumours of a Brighton bid for Celtic striker Moussa Dembele.
Albion are the third lowest scorers in the Premier League with just 17 goals in 22 games and are expected to bring in a forward during the January transfer window having failed to do so in the summer.
Frenchman Dembele has been strongly linked with the Seagulls in recent weeks and could add some much needed pace to their attacking options.
Manager Hughton, however, said there has been no contact with Scottish champions Celtic regarding the 21-year-old.
“There’s been huge speculation, certainly on this particular one,” Hughton said about former Fulham man Dembele.
“There were certainly some quotes going back a little while ago about figures and about some communication between the two clubs.
“Categorically, there hasn’t been any communication between the two clubs.
“Hence he is a name, along with lots of other names.”
Top-scorer Glenn Murray and Tomer Hemed have been the only strikers available to Hughton for much of the season, although Sam Baldock has returned to fitness in recent weeks following injury to increase his options.
When asked whether he planned to make a move for Dembele later this month, Hughton, whose team host bitter rivals Crystal Palace in the FA Cup on Monday, hesitated before replying: “Pure speculation.
“If I look at players that we might have an interest in then there would be numerous names and of course this is one name that’s consistently been linked but there could be numerous other names.
“We’ll continue to work as hard as we can on anybody that we might want to bring in but certainly names that have been mentioned at this moment are very much speculation.”
While Brighton have struggled to put the ball in the back of the net on a regular basis, they have been much more impressive at the other end of the field.
Albion have already kept eight clean sheets, with centre-back pairing Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk key factors in that statistic.
Hughton, who confirmed out-of-favour winger Jamie Murphy is in Glasgow ahead of a proposed move to Rangers, said he was unaware of any interest in Dunk and expects him to remain a Brighton player at the end of the month.
“That would be a huge surprise to me. Lewis has been magnificent for us in my period of time here, he’s improved each season as a player,” Hughton added.
“We have an owner and a chairman who has resisted any temptation for him to not be here in this period of time.
“I full expect him to be a Brighton player come the end of January.”