The “Odsonne Edouard or Alfredo Morelos” debate has raged, among supporters of Celtic and Rangers at least, in Scottish football in recent months as both players have once again impressed hugely with their performances up front for their respective teams at home and abroad.
No consensus is ever likely to be reached among followers of the Parkhead and Ibrox clubs about who is the better striker, regardless of how many goals the pair score or trophies they lift.
Yet, Christopher Jullien, the centre half who is Edouard’s compatriot as well as his team-mate at the Scottish champions, believes his prodigiously talented young countryman is capable of achieving something which would set him apart from his Colombian counterpart Morelos in the coming months.
France are the World Cup holders and arguably still the best international side on the planet – although the Fifa rankings would beg to differ, with Belgium top of their list. Les Bleus might also be able to field Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe, a formidable front line if ever there was one.
Still, Jullien is convinced that Edouard, whose all-round displays and strike rate for his under-21 side in the 2019-20 campaign have been phenomenal, is currently the most talented young forward from France and can force his way into Didier Deschamps’ squad in the not-too-distant future.
“Why not?” he said as he spoke to the media at Celtic’s training camp in Dubai. “I think he could. The French team have a lot of good players. I think it’s one of the best teams in the world, so it’s not easy. He has to work for it. But I think in his mind he wants to and I’m sure if he works hard enough it will come for sure.”
The game in this country is regarded with disdain by many players, managers, pundits and supporters across the continent and it is undeniable the standard on these shores is inferior to that in the top divisions in England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and other larger footballing nations.
However, Jullien, a £7 million arrival from Ligue 1 club Toulouse last summer, has revealed the success of Neil Lennon’s team in the Europa League, where they topped their group for the first time en route to reaching the last 32, has piqued interest in his homeland.
The defender feels Edouard’s showings in the wins over Cluj, Lazio and Rennes will have caught the eye of Deschamps and could lead to the centre-forward being handed a chance with the senior national side to show what he is capable of.
“I have received a lot of texts from home during this break,” Jullien said. “The media in France want to talk to us about it. The French love Celtic and, with what we achieved in the first part of the season in the Europa League and so on, they follow us. They are happy with what we are doing here.
“I don’t think it [a Celtic player being called up by France] has ever happened. But why not? Odsonne is now the best young striker of the French national scene, so why not?
“He could, so why not aspire to be a Celtic player in the French national team? That would be great.”
Edouard, a record £9 million acquisition from Paris Saint-Germain in 2018 and, who doesn’t turn 22 until next week, has improved enormously and furthered his career prospects since moving to Scotland.
Jullien, too, feels that he has progressed since putting pen to paper with the treble treble winners back in June. He has had no regrets about his decision.
“I love it,” he said. “I love it for sure. I came here to challenge myself, to be around really good players. I am just pleased that everything is going well. The team are in a good mood. The players are just unbelievable, some of the best players that I have played with since I started my career. I am really happy here.
“It is really different to French football for sure. Toulouse was a bit difficult. We didn’t have the same mentality as here because we didn’t expect to win every weekend. It was really hard.
“We had a trainer who wanted us to sit back on the field, defend and play counter. So it was a different approach to the game.
“Coming here with the team and playing with a totally different approach, pressing high, have the ball a lot, play technically, play a lot of passes, is enjoyable. I am just so happy to be at this football club.”
Jullien’s on-field persona, arrogant, unpleasant, intimidating, is quite different from his nature away from the park where he is affable, approachable and accommodating.
But he is unconcerned about the public perception of him. All that matters to the defender is bringing success to Celtic.
“Some people might think that I am a bad winner or a bad loser or something like that,” he said. “But that’s just the way I am on the field. It’s not the way I am in life. It’s just what I do, not what I am.
“I am happy to have that personality on the field. I just try to do all I can to help my teammates win and be the best that I can. If how I am on the field means I keep improving then I am just going to keep going.”