This day last year, after a protracted wait, Celtic confirmed the permanent signing of Odsonne Edouard for a club record transfer fee.
With suggestions that the figure could end up as high as £9million, the French youngster is already looking like a bargain and it’s imperative that the club does everything in its power to keep him.
After a mole leaked a document containing Celtic’s transfer plans, it was revealed that the club was bracing itself for interest in the 21-year-old.
With Lazio reported to being the latest club ‘interested’ in him, it’s to be it has to be hoped that any interest is rebuffed, not least for the suggested fee of “above £15million” reported in LaLazioSiamoNoi.
Why should Celtic deal at such a price after seeing Moussa Dembele’s value double in a year, with him linked with teams such as Arsenal, Liverpool, Man Utd and Chelsea for what will be a far weightier price>
Edouard has gone from promising young back-up striker, signed on an initial one-year loan deal from PSG with an option to extend, to an integral part of an historic team.
He made his debut at Hamilton at the start of September, Edouard struggled, as many do on the artificial pitch, to find his feet. His goal, however, gave a glimpse of what was to come.
Taking the ball about 40 yards from goal, he glided past a couple of Accies players, before cutting through the last line with a neat one-two before netting his first goal for the club.
At times, Eddie appeared to be too keen to impress, snatching at chances. It would be three months later, at the start of December, when he would net again in the league, scoring his first career hat trick in a 5-1 win over Motherwell.
His first two that day were remarkably similar to his opening two against Rangers the following April (see video below). The first when he nicked in front of his man to turn in a low cross across the six-yard box, and his second a driving run that ended up with the ball low in the goalie’s right hand corner.
In between, showed how he could drive at the heart of defences to as he scored an early goal against Hearts in a 3-1 midweek win at Parkhead. And, of course, there was his decisive intervention at Ibrox when Celtic’s 10 men effectively ended all talk of a Rangers’ challenge.
Still learning his trade, these goals show not only that any doubts about Edouard’s composure in front of goal were misplaced but that, just like Dembele, his goals come in important games.
Last season reinforced that, with strikes in Europe, including his a winner against Leipzig, a classic turn and chip at Pittodrie as a drab affair turned into a Boxing Day classic, a last-minute winner at Tynecastle as the club reeled from Brendan Rodgers pressing the ejector seat button, and a double against the Jambos to seal a famous treble Treble.
More than that though, after Dembele’s late departure in the transfer window and Leigh Griffiths’ having to take time out, it was left to Edouard to carry the fight up front on his own.
Playing as a centre forward for Celtic is no mean feat and to go from occasional substitute one season to the only option available the next was a huge step up.
Chris Sutton bemoaned Eddie’s lack of movement in Europe on occasion, but it has to be remembered that Eddie isn’t the finished article and with every game, especially at that higher level, he’s gaining experience. Sutton himself only scored twice in 22 appearances in Europe for Norwich, Blackburn and Chelsea, before he really hit his stride in that arena for Celtic.
Bearing all that in mind, Edouard’s signing has to be seen as a coup and the outlay serving to reinforce the argument that you get what you pay for.
With goals from inside and outside the box, perhaps with only headers really missing from his armoury so far, Celtic have someone who could easily follow in the footsteps of some of our renowned strikers.
It’s around him, and the likes of McGregor, Tierney, Christie and some of other emerging youngster that the next Celtic team should be built, with the aim surely being to continue our domestic dominance for the foreseeable future. Some of these players could go on to do well in Europe too, and if Celtic has any real ambition it should be to make them believe that the club has plans for that stage too.
To do that, it needs to add quality to complement these players, not accept the first pile of cash plonked on a desk in front of us or, worse, actively look to boost our already healthy coffers.
The first thing on everyone’s mind at Celtic should be how to build the best, strongest team we can be within our budget. We won’t do that by selling our best players.
Edouard looks happy at Celtic. He says he’s happy at Celtic. Let’s hope we’re still saying that this time next year.