It would appear that Odsonne Edouard isn’t only a striker extraordinaire. It seems the 21-year-old Celtic attacker is also something of a hidden strategist. In the last week the Frenchman exported his club form on to the international arena with doubles in each of his opening two appearance for his country’s under-21 side.
It follows on from his goal in the 2-0 victory against Rangers at Ibrox two weekends ago, his fifth in the fixture. Yesterday, his captain Scott Brown revealed that Edouard’s crucial contribution to the derby win was set within seconds.
Manager Neil Lennon had credited Brown with the tactic of kicking the ball into touch from the centre, setting the tone for the visitors to press high up the park against their city rivals. The Celtic captain, though, has passed the credit on to Edouard.
The striker is a worthy successor to Moussa Dembele – both began their careers with Paris Saint-Germain, developed a penchant for scoring against Rangers and excelled for France at under-21 level – and Brown welcomes the parallels, but hopes the careers of the pair diverge in terms of how long Celtic are treated to their services. Dembele spent only two seasons at Celtic Park before his £19.7 million move to Lyon last year.
Edouard has already spent longer in Scotland than his compatriot and his direct approach at Ibrox suggests the forward has gone native.
“I turned around and said: ‘What the f*** are you doing, Odsonne?’ ” Brown said about the punt into touch. “I just turned around and said: ‘That will be f****** that, then eh?’ But I’m not going to lie. It’s the first time we had ever done it and we got something from it. It was a wee change and Odsonne was unbelievable at doing it. I said to start by pressing them up the park but I wanted the ball to come back first before we went up there. But my French is not what it used to be…
“I think you look at him and you look at Moussa. The two of them came here to show how good they were and the both of them turn up in big games. Odsonne has been a real breath of fresh air. We all knew Moussa would leave eventually and Odsonne would have to step up but he has done it phenomenally well.”
Edouard is like Dembele too in appearing an entirely imperturbable character. “He’s very quiet, very chilled,” said Brown. “He plays the same way. He’s relaxed on the ball. He never gets annoyed with anyone. He makes those runs and when it doesn’t come off he doesn’t throw up his arms and shout at everybody. I think that’s what makes him the fantastic striker that he is.
“He’s happy as Larry if someone else scores. If he scores, he looks kind-of happy. I think he’s happy to be here! Seriously, he speaks away as his English is getting better and he’s a good guy around the changing room, even if he’s quiet. Everyone has different qualities. For me, he is smart the way he plays. He knows when people are coming into him, he knows where the touches are going to be and when he’s going to be hit. He knows when to hold it up for the team or go one-on-one with someone and create a chance. That’s the football knowledge that he has at 21 years old and that shows his maturity as well as a No 9 playing up there on his own.”
Brown believes there is every chance he will be the next Dembele.
“If he is doing it with the under-21s and the Europa League, that’s the test,” Brown said. “Moussa did it week in and week out and he got a huge move. We want to make sure that Odsonne does it week in and week out as well – but that he stays with us.”