By Daniel Hayes
Odsonne Edouard has become one of the most exciting, talented and unbeatable Celtic players of the new century. Game after game, the French hitman seems to get better and better and Celtic fans know that we have to enjoy every minute we get of him before one of Europe’s A-listers comes in for him.
Not much was thought about the young French striker Celtic had signed on loan from PSG late in the summer transfer window of 2017. While back-up was required up front, it seemed a given that whoever would come in would take third spot behind the free-firing Moussa Dembele and Leigh Griffiths – as was the case for the first half of the 2017-18 season. Fans only got a couple of chances to see Odsonne Edouard in his first few months at the club and while he was clearly talented, it never seemed like we were likely to exercise his £9 million purchase option.
However, after the winter break, French Eddy burst onto the scene scoring several goals, including three against Rangers. Fans were increasingly behind the campaign to break our transfer record to sign the youngster.
In summer 2018, that is exactly what happened. Odsonne Edouard joined Celtic on a permanent deal and since then neither he or any Celtic stakeholder has looked back.
So many times, Edouard has been put under incredible pressure to be the main man for Celtic and time after time he has delivered. Between last minute winners, goals against Rangers, goals in Europe and crucially his overall link up play with so many members of the Celtic squad have made him one of the most entertaining footballers that this writer has seen in green and white.
Therefore, inevitably, the question has arisen: is Odsonne Edouard Celtic’s best striker since Henrik Larsson? The king of kings left Celtic nearly 16 years ago, therefore the Celtic supporters have seen a lot of different attackers since then. Some simply have not worked out. To name a few, we have seen Henri Camara, Chris Killen, Mo Bangura, Teemu Pukki and a good few others who simply never quite grasped their chance at Celtic. On the other hand, Celtic have had a number of excellent goal scorers since Larsson’s departure in 2004. We have seen the likes of Scott Mcdonald, Gary Hooper and Anthony Stokes.
Two arguably bigger names would be the aforementioned Moussa Dembele and current Celt Leigh Griffiths.
The latter has been on Celtic’s books for 6 years now. While there have been ups and downs, Leigh Griffiths sits on 111 Celtic goals and counting, 13 trophies and counting and the striker won the PFA Player of the Year award in 2016. Recently, Griffiths has struggled getting into the team through a mix of injuries and personal problems. However, for now, he seems to have put that behind him and has really hit the ground running since the new year. There is no doubt that Leigh Griffiths is one of the great strikers in Celtic’s modern history.
Dembele, like Edouard, arrived at a young age but with a big reputation. He became immediately popular amongst the hoops faithful with a hat-trick in his first Glasgow Derby. Also like Eddy, Dembele had a habit of scoring in big games. His hold up play, pace and finishing gave Celtic a dimension unseen for a long time. Throughout his two years at the club, there was a constant inevitability that Dembele would eventually move on to a bigger league. Currently at Lyon, he is one of the most prolific and sought-after strikers in Europe.
However, could anyone who has watched Celtic over the past couple of years and particularly this season say that Edouard is not the best since Larsson? The Frenchman is already at 24 goals for the season as well as massive performances in Europe. His link up play with a number of players in the squad such as Elyounoussi, Forrest, Ntcham and Christie have made him our biggest goal threat in years. When the team is playing well, Edouard is at the centre of everything; getting goals and assists left, right and centre. More importantly, when the team are struggling, Edouard is capable of coming up with a piece of magic to save the day. We saw his importance in the League Cup final this season when Celtic were being overrun. French Eddy came on, half-fit, and completely turned the game.
Personally, I am confident in the belief that Odsonne Edouard is Celtic’s best striker since Henrik Larsson.
Griffiths and Dembele are two massive names in Celtic’s recent history and will be remembered as legends if Celtic win 10-in-a-row.
However, Edouard’s coolness, his skill, his pace, his finishing, his strength, his ability to win a match, his ability to control a game from the front and make the whole team better – that truly reminds me of Henrik Larsson.
I hope so much that Edouard can stay for 10 and beyond. However, should one of Europe’s finest come knocking it may be hard to say no, and I doubt any Celtic fan would grudge Eddy the move.
However, it is imperative that Celtic do everything in their power to keep Edouard. £50k a week, a statue, the no7 jersey. Anything.
Meanwhile, we the fans should just enjoy the sheer talent we are witnessing from the Frenchman as much as possible for as long as possible. It may be a while before a similar player of his calibre comes along.