Scottish Premiership

Odsonne Edouard: Made in Glasgow but destined for greatness

The French attacker has become one of Europe's most sought-after young strikers after his performances with Celtic

8:00am on Thursday 20th August 2020
Team FC

Odsonne Edouard is the best, and most valuable, player in Scotland.

On the opening day of the season he scored a hat-trick in a 5-1 win over Hamilton, with the opposition bamboozled by his movement, desire, and finishing ability.

His three finishes were from close range, but his overall performance was worth so much more than that - and that's what has Europe's top clubs monitoring his situation.

Scoring three goals against a modest side, with due respect to Hamilton, proves little. It's what he does around those goals which is so eye-catching. At the moment the transfer window is open, and Celtic are playing, while most other clubs are enjoying a break. This may amplify his already stellar achievements into a tangible bid that Celtic will surely be ready for.

Edouard: playing style

When signed initially on loan from PSG, he was raw and in the shadow of Moussa Dembele, playing just 1067 league minutes as a result but still managing nine goals and two assists, or the equivalent of a contribution every 97 minutes, the highlight a brilliant winner against Rangers at Ibrox in the derby.

His touch needed work, as did his ability to play with his back to goal. He also worked on his strength and power, and that work has all been worth it, crystallising his talent in a special way.

His languid style and disposition when running with the ball has led to the wrong impression that he doesn’t look interested or is lazy, though it is true that Edouard can be on the periphery of a match and then suddenly burst into action.

He was the Scottish Premiership’s top scorer in 2019/20 with 22 goals in 27 appearances, and would likely have hit the 30-goal mark had the league continued post-pandemic.

Scottish Premiership Goals+Assists

PlayerMinutesGoalsAssistsG+A P90
Odsonne Edouard20972271.29
Jermain Defoe10031311.26
Ryan Christie159311111.19
James Forrest229510140.98
Alfredo Morelos16351210.72

His emergence came after suggestions that he was perhaps not capable of replacing Dembele (who left for Lyon at the start of the 2018/19 season) as the new centre-forward, with him, on occasion, being utilised on the left as more of a wide forward.

But playing in both roles has helped to expand his skillset, and now he has added

predatory goals to his Arsenal, getting himself into the six yard box for the 'easy' goals as well as the hard ones.

Looking specifically at performances in Europe, though the sample size is smaller, we can get a better indication of his abilities against superior teams. He has noticeably upped his shot output 2.1 in 2018/19 to 3.4 in 2019/20, while his touches in the box P90 is also markedly up, from 5.4 to 8.4.

He has enjoyed becoming the central focus and he now seems more goal-hungry than he previously was. But it's also interesting to look at how his assist total has risen. From just five in all competitions in 2018/19, he provided a huge 16 in 2019/20. Last year, he really did develop into all-round striking proposition and it's easy to see why, despite the relative quality of the opponents in Scotland, there would be such interest in his talents.

Where could he go?

Scottish football's detractors will say that being a top performer there is no guarantee of success in a more elite league, but from the recent past Virgil van Dijk, Stuart Armstrong, Andy Robertson and Stiliyan Petrov would beg to differ.

But what Dembele has done since arriving in France has made Edouard seem more of a safer bet. Dembele has developed into a striker good enough to knock Manchester City out of the Champions League and those who have watched Edouard regularly would say that, now, he is more complete than Dembele was when he departed.

Talks of moves to the likes of Crystal Palace, Leeds United, and Everton are, to a certain degree, condescending given the depth of his ability. But as is the case with players coming from Scotland, a stepping stone is necessary first. It shouldn't be, here, but it may well be

Afeasible scenario could be to team up with former manager Brendan Rodgers at Leicester, with the Irishman keen for a reunion with Edouard as a long-term replacement for Jamie Vardy, or perhaps even a partner for the league's 19/20 top scorer.

However, without exaggerating, there's no reason why Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, or Tottenham wouldn't look to acquire him, as for each team he represents competition for places or an update on a player they already have.

Will that be this season, though? Celtic fans will be praying that's not the case.

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