Celtic’s dream of qualifying for the Europa League turned closer to reality on Thursday night as they clinched a thoroughly deserved 2-1 win over RB Leipzig, with Odsonne Edouard stealing the headlines with his decisive strike in the 79th minute.
It was a chance which Edouard simply couldn’t miss but it was a goal which he thoroughly deserved to cap a glowing performance at the spearhead of the attack. While it became apparent that he needs to refine some fundamental qualities which will enable him to blossom into a top striker, predominantly his composure in the penalty area, he delivered a big-game performance which had been brewing beneath the surface for quite some time.
On the back of an eye-catching loan spell with the Hoops in which he managed to notch 11 goals in 29 appearances for the club, Brendan Rodgers decided he liked what he saw and sanctioned a permanent deal worth a cool £9.25 million in the summer.
In today’s market that fee represented an absolute steal for a striker who only turned 20 earlier this year, and his performance on Thursday hinted that Celtic capitalised on a glorious opportunity to secure a bargain while rival bidders were caught sleeping.
His stadium-erupting winning goal took his tally to 23 in all-competitions from 50 appearances in green and white, averaging just shy of a goal every other game. But take his 8 assists into consideration and Edouard boasts an impressive return of a goal or an assist for every 88.7 minutes played.
A goal a game is exactly the type of return which all big clubs crave from their centre-forwards, but Edouard is beginning to prove that there are plenty more strings to his bow other than just finding the net.
Against RB Leipzig Edouard was dynamic, direct and penetrative with the ball at his feet, utilising his strength and power to unsettle a defensive unit who are renowned for their solidity in the Bundesliga. It was as if Edouard took them by surprise; as if this was out of character; as if he wasn’t capable of delivering on the big stage.
Whatever pre-conceived notions the visitors had about Edouard’s potential would have been transformed throughout the course of the 90 minutes. It could yet turn out to be a watershed performance in his fledgling career, and it would be no surprise if a handful of European clubs will be monitoring his progress with a keen eye in light of his performance.
Naturally, Celtic will want to avoid another debacle which bears a similarity to Moussa Dembele’s deadline day switch to Lyon earlier this year but, the Hoops are self-aware, and they know that a player of Edouard’s potential will eventually draw interest from top clubs on the continent.
Rodgers has provided the springboard from which Edouard can launch his career and Celtic are blessed with the presence of a deadly striker, so they can rest easy in the knowledge that they are well placed to command a substantial profit when a rival club inevitably comes calling for his signature.
Celtic fans – thoughts on Edouard? Let us know below!