Neil Lennon admits Odsonne Edouard distracted by transfer talk as Celtic boss seeks heart-to-heart

Does he want to leave? Is he still struggling from Covid-19? Is he just another underperforming player in a squad littered with them? These questions have swirled around Odsonne Edouard for several weeks as the Celtic support have waited for their talismanic striker to recapture his once-scintillating form.

Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard has struggled for form this season. Picture: SNS

Finally his manager Neil Lennon has shone a light on the situation by admitting the transfer speculation which followed his player during the transfer window has had an adverse affect on his football.

The Parkhead boss is now seeking a meeting with the talented forward with the aim of getting him refocused on Celtic as the Scottish champions face a gruelling run of fixtures which could decide their season.

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After turning it on for the French under-21s with a pair of goals in the midweek victory over Switzerland, Lennon wants to see him replicate that form when they take on Hibs at Easter Road this Saturday.

He said: “Listen, he’s a human being and he’s still young at 22 and there has been a lot of interest or speculation – whatever you want to call it – about him and there’s no question that it affected him and his performances.

“When he comes back we’ll sit down, have a good discussion with him and, hopefully, he’ll kick on and get back to his best.

“What we have with Odsonne is an outstanding, talented player and it’s up to us now to try and get the best out of him again.

“There are huge games coming up, ones in which he can inspire the team. We know what he’s capable of and we understand why his recent form hasn’t been as good.”

Rather than look for a route out of Glasgow, Lennon hopes to get the point across to Edouard that he’s in a tremendous situation. Beloved by everyone around the club, the former PSG youngster could still play a significant part in Celtic securing ten-in-a-row, which would forever earn himself a significant place in the club’s decorated 132-year history.

Furthermore, sustained subpar form is hardly going to endear the footballer to potential suitors. A fact his manager was also keen to note.

Lennon added: “We’re hoping he can settle down again. He knows he’s loved here – by his team-mates, the backroom staff and the fans – and he can get back to doing what he does best and that is playing some remarkable football.

“Of course, it’s also in his own best interests to knuckle down and get back to playing the way he can."

Lennon also welcomed Albian Ajeti’s determination to improve his fitness during the international break. The striker, who arrived this summer from West Ham, struck five goals in his first six Scottish Premiership matches, but hasn’t found the net in his last seven.

He insists he’s been hampered by injury and a stunted pre-season and has been working hard to get himself in peak shape.

Lennon said: “That’s a massive boost because he’s been sensational for us, absolutely tremendous with the impact he’s had already.

“I’ll be delighted to have him, Edouard, [Leigh] Griffiths and [Patryck] Klimala because they’re all different kinds of strikers. They all bring a lot of quality to the team but Ajeti has shown his class and what he brings to the table.”

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