JUDGING by his recent track record in international colours, Odsonne Edouard was never going to be out of the shadows for long this week. The 23-year-old helped the French under-21 side to a win against Russia at the European Championships on Sunday night, a goal that stretches his record for his country to 16 from just 12 appearances. Before a ball was kicked he was already established as his country’s top goalscorer at this level.  

If the tournament is an ideal opportunity for Edouard to showcase what he has got in a fairly enticing shop window – France remain favourites to win the competition despite losing their opening group game to Denmark – Celtic might wonder just what kind of Edouard will be return to Glasgow. 

The striker has 21 goals so far this season for the Parkhead side. It is a fair return given his absence with Covid in the opening stages of the campaign and yet there has been a lingering feeling that Edouard has played within himself this term; perhaps never so evident in a hooked ball across the six-yard box against Rangers that was begging for him to throw himself immediately prior to his departure for Hungary. 

But as Celtic play out the remaining league games of what has been a demoralising season and try to rouse themselves for the defence of a Scottish Cup they have claimed four times in succession, they could do with Edouard returning with the bit between his teeth. When the player came back after international duty in October with France it took him five games before he found the net again. In November Edouard’s return was more robust – just not robust to prevent serious damage to Celtic’s season. He scored in a draw against Hibs and then claimed another from an abject night in the Czech Republic as Neil Lennon’s side suffered an ignominious 4-1 defeat in the Europa League to Sparta Prague. 

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In fairness, Edouard would be forgiven returning to Celtic and their travails this season less enthused than his sojourns in international football afford. The company he keeps at under-21 level with France is not so much about the emergence of up-and-coming talent but rather a rubbing of shoulders with the established young elite of European football.

PSG’s Colin Dagba, Leipzig’s Ibrahima Konate (for whom Liverpool are believed to be set to trigger a 40m euro release clause), Leicester’s Wesley Fofana and Bayer Leverkusen forward Moussa Diaby need no introduction to the football world. It is a sobering reflection that Edouard is the only player in the 21-man squad who is not affiliated to a club in one of Europe’s big five leagues.

The expectancy is that will change this year. Brendan Rodgers fancies the striker at Leicester and if the former Celtic manager, whose side are just a point behind second-place Manchester United, confirms a Champions League spot this season there will be the funds available to sign Edouard a second time. Long before the Frenchman had won over the Celtic support, Rodgers had already suggested the striker was a more natural striker than then fans’ favourite Moussa Dembele. 

Arsenal, Roma and Aston Villa are also in the mix for the player with former Celtic Lubo Moravcik suggesting that the striker will want to leave the club on a high. 

“I have watched a lot of Odsonne,” said Moravcik. “There was a point a few months ago when I felt I was talking about him to everybody. France were in the same group as Slovakia so I saw that game and a lot of the French games. He was really impressive. He is a very talented player.

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“But for any player, wherever he goes next he will want to play. And if he leaves Celtic to go to the English Premier League or another club who have a lot of resources, he will face more competition to play every week. At 23, he is at the stage of his career where he needs now to be playing every week. 

“He won’t want to have to take the time to prove himself, he will want to start games right away. So his mindset when he goes back to Celtic should be that he needs to be at his best. He has a Scottish Cup campaign to play in and it would be a nice way for him to finish off his time at the club if he was to go out with some more silverware. 

“I actually think that part of the problem for Celtic this season was that they had too many players who have been excellent for the last few seasons all off it at different times in the season. I don’t think that the league table shows a true gap between the teams. 

“I watched the last two games between Celtic and Rangers and I also watched Rangers in the Europa League when they played Slavia Prague. I thought they were physical and strong and organised but they are not unbeatable.

“I was watching so many of the results come in after Christmas and it was Rangers 1-0, 1-0, 1-0... they were beating teams without really dominating them. If I was a Celtic player I would look forward to next season. There isn’t a huge amount between the two sides.”