Football Expert & Columnist
Last Updated: 04/08/20 9:25pm
Former Celtic and Scotland forward Andy Walker explains why Odsonne Edouard could be a ‘huge success’ at any club at the top of the Premier League…
Anyone who watched Celtic open their chase for a 10th successive Scottish Premiership title with a comfortable 5-1 win over Hamilton last weekend would have been drawn to the level of performance of star striker Odsonne Edouard.
A hat-trick on the opening day is headline stuff for any player – but just how good is Edouard? Could he cut it in the Premier League or any of the other big leagues in Europe? What about the international scene; would he score regularly at that level?
I enjoyed a brief chat with former Celtic manager Martin O’Neil on Sunday before he went on air as part of Sky’s coverage of the season-opener at Celtic Park, and he was in no doubt that Edouard is the finest striker to wear the Hoops since Henrik Larsson.
For the avoidance of doubt, that’s a massive compliment. Joining O’Neill in the studio was Sky’s other guest John Hartson and he scored more than a century of goals for the club. O’Neil also signed Chris Sutton; he too was a huge success, as were the strikers that followed them; Georgios Samaras, Gary Hooper, Kris Commons, Scott McDonald and Leigh Griffiths.
But there’s a style and panache about Edouard that sets him apart from the rest. Absolutely, he could play in the Premier League or anywhere else in Europe for that matter. I think he’d be a huge success at one of the top-six clubs in England.
At 22, his game will only improve and I suppose the biggest wish for Celtic fans is that their French Eddy stays as long as the magical Swede Larsson did, but I think it’s highly unlikely. Larsson was happy enough to be with Celtic for seven seasons, enjoying one of the best atmospheres that any player could dream about when Celtic are on Champions League duty under the lights in the east end of Glasgow.
Believe me, there’s nothing quite like it.
There are plenty of commentators in England who scoff at the level of competition in Scotland, but for Larsson it was enough to satisfy one of Europe’s great players before he left for Barcelona and changed the course of the 2006 Champions League final when he came on as a substitute to help the Catalans beat Arsenal 2-1.
Sir Alex Ferguson even had the foresight to turn to him for a short loan spell in 2007 and he helped United secure another title. Celtic have a good record of sourcing untapped talent and it’ll be a huge boost to everyone at the club if Edouard is still plying his trade in the Scottish Premiership when this transfer window closes.
A more up-to-date comparison for Edouard would be his fellow Frenchman Moussa Dembele. He played with Celtic under Brendan Rodgers for a couple of years before Lyon paid almost £20million for him. The speculation now is that Dembele could end up at Old Trafford with United forced to pay a massive fee.
In my view, Edouard is every bit as talented, if not more so, and it’s easy to imagine him starring for a club as big as Manchester United. Who knows, maybe even Rodgers would like him to help Leicester maintain their ambitions in the top half of the table.
Having watched Newcastle play a few times over the last 12 months, I believe Edouard is a better team player and goalscorer than Joelinton, and the Geordies paid around £40m for him.
Virgil van Dijk and Victor Wanyama both had to go to Southampton from Celtic to prove they could cut it at the demanding level of the Premier League and, eventually, they went on to bigger and better things at Liverpool and Tottenham.
Whilst hoping Edouard stays at Celtic for at least another season, he would prove to be a bargain for any of the big boys at the top of the Premier League if they took a chance and signed him now – he’s that good.