Odsonne Edouard started the new season just as he ended the last. Celtic got their title defence up-and-running with a 5-1 win over Hamilton Academical, and the French striker helped himself to a clinical hat-trick.
Manager Neil Lennon stated after the game that Edouard is “pivotal” to his side’s ambitions of winning ten consecutive league titles. He will be hoping that such ambitions are sufficient for the player, too.
There is a growing perception that the 22-year-old is ready to showcase his talents in one of Europe’s top five leagues. Should Edouard’s head be turned by any substantial offer coming in from a more competitive environment than that of Scottish football in its present state, then Lennon has a real problem on his hands.
Is Edouard Too Good for Scottish Football Amid Links Away From the Scottish Premiership?
Hitting the Ground Running on Day One
Edouard’s goals in that opening day victory were all the finishes of a striker at the very peak of his powers.
For the first, the striker gathered a pass outside the box with a delightful first touch, before playing the ball out wide for Greg Taylor to continue his forward run. Edouard then made haste for the back post, where he arrived right on time to finish Taylor’s inviting cross and give the champions the lead.
His second goal was a sharp finish from a central position in the box, finishing James Forrest’s delivery with aplomb and giving the goalkeeper no chance. It was a finish that displayed great balance and quick feet, made all the more difficult by the covering defender and onrushing goalkeeper. The fact Edouard made it look so easy is a testament to his ability.
Not done there, the striker completed his hat-trick with a reactionary finish to turn in a loose ball in the box following a parry from the Hamilton goalkeeper.
Make no mistake, this was no ordinary hat-trick. All three goals were first-time finishes from the striker. Having that kind of sharpness on the first day of the new season is surely a sign of what’s to come. Celtic will desperately hope that it takes place with Edouard still wearing the Hoops’ colours.
Why Edouard is Ready for the Big Leagues
Those goals mean it is now 14 league goals in 14 league games for the forward. Whilst this is undoubtedly a stellar record, some will argue that the goals will be harder to come by in a more challenging league.
The form of some of Edouard’s predecessors outside of Celtic Park vindicates such an opinion at times. Gary Hooper, for instance, was remembered as a goal machine in Scottish football. He plundered 63 goals in 95 games for Celtic from 2010-2013.
Hooper then tried to make the grade South of the border but failed to replicate his form at both Norwich City and Sheffield Wednesday. Now 32, Hooper now finds himself plying his trade for Wellington Phoenix in the A-League.
More recently, though, the form of Edouard’s fellow striker Moussa Dembele puts paid to such talk. Dembele netted 51 times in 94 games for the club, earning himself a move to French side Olympique Lyonnais. His goal-scoring touch has not deserted him in France, where his 42 goals in 89 matches so far have seen him continually linked with big-money moves to either Chelsea or Manchester United.
Importantly, the view among many in Scotland is that Edouard is at the very least the equal of Dembele. That is an opinion shared by Sky Sports pundit Andy Walker, who feels that “Edouard is every bit as talented, if not more so” than his fellow Frenchman, meaning it would be “easy to imagine him starring for a club as big as Manchester United”.
Why Celtic Need Edouard to Stay This Summer
A move away from Glasgow seems inevitable at some stage for the 22-year-old. But Celtic will hope that it does not come this summer.
Neil Lennon’s men are chasing a historic tenth league title in a row, and the manager told the media the importance of keeping his star player:
“It’s pivotal [that] we hold on to him. We don’t want him to go anywhere. It’s a brilliant start to the season for him and what’s pleased me over the last twelve to eighteen months is his goals return. As well as all the other good things he brings to the game, he’s scoring goals now and it’s fantastic to see.”