While Kylian Mbappe was leading France to the World Cup final, Odsonne Edouard was leading Celtic to a win Champions League qualification. Joel Sked writes about how the Celtic striker was once more highly thought of than Mbappe and the season ahead for the Frenchman.
There were moments. So many moments. Topping 23mph as the Argentine defence chased after him like an owner chasing their dog in vain as it hares towards a group of marathon runners.
There were the two goals in the same game. There was the pace to streak away from the Croatian defence to help set up Paul Pogba for his decisive goal in the World Cup final.
Then, of course, there was strike from 25 yards past the un-diving Danijel Subasic.
Kylian Mbappe was omnipresent throughout France’s World Cup success, on his way to the Golden Boy award, on his way to stardom.
Those moments arrived three years after the UEFA European Under-17 Championship held in Bulgaria. France strolled to victory. Six games, 15 goals, tournament success.
It was all achieved without the prodigious talent of Mbappe. Jean-Claude Giuntini was not convinced. The coach of the French under-17s preferred a boy by the name of Odsonne Edouard, as per The Guardian.
In the short-term Giuntini was proven to be correct. The Celtic striker banged in eight goals, earning him the player of the tournament and top scorer awards. He netted in a 5-0 win over Scotland, plus a hat-trick in the 4-1 final win over Germany.
Within a year Mbappe had signed his first professional contract with Monaco and had starred for the France Under-19s in their triumphant 2016 European Championship win. Edouard wouldn’t make the jump until after the tournament.
On the same day as Mbappe was helping France to a semi-final victory over neighbours Belgium earlier this month, Edouard was scoring Celtic’s first goal of the season against Armenians Alashkert in the first round of Champions League qualification.
This summer 19-year-old Mbappe is set to complete a permanent move to Paris Saint-Germain for a fee which will make him the second most expensive player ever. It will follow Edouard’s exit from PSG, the 20-year-old having completed a record move of his own to Celtic.
This isn’t to talk down Edouard. Not in the slightest. It simply highlights how young talent is subject to drastic change, the differing opinions of coaches, the capricious nature of the sport.
It also emphasises the depth of talent within French football. That can be seen within the Celtic squad with Olivier Ntcham, Moussa Dembele and, of course, Edouard.
Celtic Park is now the launching pad for Edouard’s career as he embarks on a more circuitous route to try and reach the top.
There was debate as to whether Celtic could justify paying a reported £9 million for a promising rather than developed talent. He demonstrated in stages last season that he was deserving of such faith, making key imprints along the way, namely his performances in the final two league games against Rangers where he scored twice and provided two assists.
At the same time there were inconsistencies. His touch would be loose, he would not use his powerful frame correctly or he would simply look dazed at the pace of the football around him.
However, he has the stats in his favour. His 0.73 goals per 90 minutes was the second best in the Ladbrokes Premiership. His nine league goals came from 3.15 shots per 90 minutes. For comparison Leigh Griffiths average 5.11 shots per 90.
And he made sure to involve himself in the player, whether it was as a focal point or drifting wider and carrying the ball at opponents. He was in the top 30 for assists and second assists per 90 minutes, while he had the fourth best dribble/1v1 success rate.
He appears to have come back from pre-season in a better frame of mind, perhaps eased by the fact he knows where his future lies. In his early outings he looked extremely confident. He was one of the star performers in the 3-0 win over Alashkert. As well as notching a goal he linked well with Kieran Tierney on the left and strike partner Dembele.
At the weekend he showed his capability of the spectacular, looping in an unusual but stunning long-range strike.
It is hard to disagree with the assertion from Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers that “he has everything”, although he also said Edouard needed an “education”.
Those who have watched him closely since arriving on loan last year will have seen a player who has taken on board coaching advice, sessions and tips. Early signs this campaign suggest that he is more coordinated.
He has a somewhat unique frame. He’s tall but quick and strong with, at times, great control and feet. He appears more balanced which helps his dribbling. When he has the ball at his feet and in control of his movements it can proof near impossible for opponents to dispossess him.
It is early days but with Griffiths injured a strike partnership is forming with Dembele. But more than that there is an indication that Edouard could be a key player in Celtic’s pursuit of more domestic glory and progress on the European stage.
Do so and Edouard will be some way on the path to carving out his own story, his own moments.