Stephen Halliday: Odsonne Edouard’s future is likely to be taken out of Neil Lennon’s hands

Player’s agents unlikely to be influenced by club’s bid for ten in a row

With 28 goals last season, it’s no surprise Odsonne Edouard is attracting interest from clubs outwith Scotland. Picture: Getty.

If Odsonne Edouard is still 
a Celtic player on the morning of 6 October, Neil Lennon will probably be as 
surprised as anyone.

The Celtic manager is obliged to make all the right noises about why the Scottish champions must retain the services of the French striker as they embark upon 
their almost mystical quest for ten-in-a-row.

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From Lennon’s perspective, his prospects of overseeing an 
historic and record-breaking league title triumph would clearly be diminished by the departure of a player who scored 28 goals last season and is as gifted a performer as Celtic have had in that position for many years.

But Lennon is also a realist. When Edouard’s representatives meet with Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell, perhaps during the forthcoming international break, their vision for the 22-year-old’s future is unlikely to be influenced in any way by the club’s pursuit of the ultimate in Old Firm bragging rights this season.

With a posse of English Premier League clubs ready to step up their interest in Edouard, the former Paris Saint-Germain player and his advisors won’t be agonising too much about him giving up on the chance of being part of an achievement which would carry negligible resonance beyond Glasgow’s city boundaries, let alone outwith Scottish football.

That may be an unpalatable truth for Celtic supporters but having the 2020-21 Scottish 
Premiership title on his CV will do nothing to further enhance Edouard’s reputation or heighten the trajectory of his career path.

If the chase for ten-in-a-row wasn’t sufficient to persuade either Brendan Rodgers or Kieran Tierney to resist the lure of the self-styled biggest league in the world, it is hardly about to 
persuade Edouard that he should turn his back on Arsenal, Everton, Leicester City, Aston Villa, 
Newcastle United or any other potential suitors during the 
current transfer window.

Selling their prize asset is not a financial imperative for Celtic, even after their dispiriting defeat by Ferencvaros on Wednesday night which means they miss out on the lucrative group stage of the Champions League for a third consecutive season.

But their elimination from Europe’s elite club competition has certainly reduced the incentive for Edouard to stick around for the rest of the campaign. With only 22 months left on his current contract at Celtic, he has so far appeared in no great rush to agree an extension. Unless he does so, it would almost be counter-intuitive for Lawwell and his boardroom colleagues to turn down any offer in the region of £30 million for a player whose ambitions are focused elsewhere.

Celtic would of course have to assess how much the sale of Edouard would impact on the likelihood of them successfully overcoming Rangers’ efforts to deny them the record-breaking sequence of league titles which has become such an obsession for their supporters.

The Ibrox club face a similar
conundrum over the future of Alfredo Morelos who, if able to regain full form and focus, remains the most valuable weapon in Steven Gerrard’s armoury.

Both clubs are trying to strike a delicate balance to ensure they are not undermined by the unpredictability of an unprecedented 
transfer window which still has just over five weeks left to run.

From a business perspective, failure to win the Premiership this season is less damaging for the runners-up as Scotland will have two representatives in next year’s Champions League qualifiers for the first time since 2012.

But from the viewpoint of their supporters, the value of this domestic crown simply cannot be judged in commercial terms. Its outcome just might be determined by the colour of jersey Edouard and Morelos find themselves wearing come 6 October.

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