Odsonne Edouard – A prodigious talent at just 22
As ever, it’s an exciting time in Scottish football. Despite a lack of action on the pitch, there is plenty going on off it, and the controversy looks set to continue in the coming weeks. The current situation in Scotland perhaps epitomises another topsy-turvy campaign, one with the customary ups and downs that the passionate supporters in the country are all-too-familiar with.
But at least one issue has remained constant from when a ball was first kicked this season until the suspension of football last month, and that is the devastating displays of Odsonne .
The Celtic striker was enjoying another phenomenal season until the governing bodies were forced to step in and bring the action to a halt, scoring 22 goals in 30 league games as his side opened up a 13-point gap over rivals Rangers at the top of the table. Add six more goals in all other competitions, and it’s quite a feat for someone who turned just 22 at the beginning of the year.
A daunting physical presence, patient and level-headed are all phrases that have been thrown around when describing the attacker, who now not only boasts 62 goals in 126 games for the Bhoys, but his song perfectly orchestrated by the boisterous Green Brigade. Not everyone makes it at a club like Celtic, and many players with much bigger reputations than Edouard have come and gone without making a mark.
By no means was it a huge risk to bring the forward to Glasgow, but it certainly wasn’t welcomed with open arms. A youthful Edouard first burst onto the scene in 2015 within the talented ranks of PSG, where he outshone his companions by guiding his side to the UEFA Youth League final from right-wing, only to lose out to the Chelsea blue of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori and co.
His efforts saw him clinch the Titi d’Or award for the club’s most promising talent, fending off competition from team-mates and now-Bundesliga regulars Dan-Axel Zagadou and Christopher Nkunku. A spot on the bench for the senior team in a Ligue 1 encounter with Bordeaux was a bonus, but that was the closest the French-Guiana born attacker got to first-team action at the French giants that season.
An 18-year-old Edouard was then handed his opportunity in the 2016 International Champions Cup in pre-season and didn’t disappoint as he found the net against Leicester just minutes after stepping onto the field.
A hugely forgettable loan spell at fellow Ligue 1 outfit Toulouse in 2016/17 was left behind as soon as possible, with his time spent alongside soon-to-be Celtic man Christopher Julien the only saving grace during his time in southern France.
His second loan spell away from the lights of the capital was much more rewarding, hitting 11 goals in 29 appearances in all competitions as Edouard and Moussa Dembele formed a devastating duo upfront as the Bhoys completed a domestic treble, the two both sharing a voracious appetite for scoring against old enemies Rangers.
The reported £9m price-tag paid for the youngster a year later remains a club-record signing, overtaking heroes of old like Chris Sutton, John Hartson and Neil Lennon. The Glasgow side rarely break the bank, much to the annoyance of many of the Parkhead faithful. But when Celtic get it right, they get it right indeed.
Dembele was destined for bigger things and secured a move to Lyon, paving the way for his compatriot to take over the reins in front of goal. A four-year deal was signed, with the 20-year-old wasting no time as he hit 22 goals to fire his side to their eighth league title in a row and a historic treble treble. The big-game player netted a double against Hearts to secure the Scottish Cup in the remarkable campaign, having also netted a brace against Rangers to clinch the league title a year before.
Despite his age, Edouard’s honours list not only comprises two Scottish Premierships, two League Cups and one Scottish Cup, but several awards from a hugely successful Euro U-17 Championship with France in 2015. The teenager netted eight of his nation’s 15 goals throughout the victorious tournament, including a hat-trick against Germany in the final, with his displays clinching the Golden Player and top scorer awards, as well as a place in the Team of the Tournament.
An impressive eleven featured the forward alongside national team-mates Dayot Upamecano and Jeff Reine-Adelaide, while his award sees him follow in the footsteps of the likes of Wayne Rooney, Mario Gotze, Toni Kroos, Cesc Fabregas and Jadon Sancho. And now with 11 goals in just six France under-21 appearances, he may even beat Dembele to a permanent place in the national setup in the near future.
Like his predecessor, Edouard’s feats have not gone unnoticed, and the Glasgow outfit may painfully witness another of their stars head for pastures new sooner rather than later. Just two years remain on his current contract, alerting a long list of Premier League clubs including Everton and Manchester United.
A proposed takeover behind the scenes at Newcastle has also sparked talk of a move for the striker, while Arsenal may turn to Edouard should starman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leave north London. Even West Ham have their hat in the ring due to a potential reunion between the forward and another of his old Toulouse team-mates in Issa Diop.
However, one man that could have that extra bit of influence is Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers. The Northern Irishman brought the relatively-unknown, timid 20-year-old to Celtic Park a few summers ago, and may look to reignite their positive relationship as he continues his stunning tenure in the Midlands. Whether the forward remains at the Scottish champions for another campaign remains to be seen. But wherever Odsonne Edouard is this time next year, you can back him to be doing what he does best; scoring goals.
Written by Peter Lynch | Feature Image by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
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