McLeish has revealed how close he went to landing the Belgian.
â€œI spoke to Dick Advocaat about him. Dick was his coach for Belgium and had seen a lot of him when he played in Holland," he told the Scottish Sun.
â€œHis exact words to me were â€˜Alex, if you can get him for between Â£3m and Â£5m, Iâ€™d take him blindâ€™.
â€œI drove Dembeleâ€™s agent, a guy called Rodger Linse, to the station. We had a long discussion about how a move to a club like Birmingham would be perfect for him because it would give him a platform, with the possibility of moving on in the future.
â€œEverything seemed set and I thought we had Dembele, but we were gazumped by Fulham and he went there."