FRENCH Eddy doesn’t like to chat.

Ambling through the mixed zone, the striker’s favourite get-out clause is a shrug of the shoulders and a lament about his limited English. Regular readers will know one’s French isn’t quite up to speed so it’s difficult to criticise.

But whatever Odsonne Edouard’s reticence to blether, it’s quite clear that the 21-year-old has no problems allowing his football to do the talking. And this season it has been shouting from the rooftops.

Nine goals so far this season, four of which have come in European competition, and a more all-rounded approach to his game has made Edouard one of the stand out players in Neil Lennon’s side this term.

The Parkhead side levelled a record that has stood for 20 years on Thursday night when they made it 19 games out of 19 in which they have scored – a flexing of their attacking muscle that equals a run of form set by Martin O’Neill’s side in the Irishman’s inaugural season at the club. If there are goals all over the park from Celtic, Edouard has grown into the key figurehead who spears that threat.

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Which right now presents Celtic with the gift of a striker who looks every bit as capable as Moussa Dembele but who also offers the beginnings of a headache. Edouard’s maturation into the lead striker at Celtic might, in itself, have been insufficient to raise any eyebrows but married to a decent international and European season will offer note further afield than Scottish shores.

His goals for the French under-21 side last month made those in his homeland sit up and as he continues to ease his way through Celtic’s season it looks increasingly likely that there will be serious money put on the table for Edouard this summer.

Which brings the January transfer window into sharp focus for Celtic.

It is unlikely Celtic would wish to lose anyone first-team regulars in the middle of the season but what business they do in preparation of next term could be hugely significant.

Neil Lennon mentioned earlier this week that he has already started to eye up the January transfer window as he seeks to get more bodies in and a striker must feature fairly high on the wanted list.

The problem is that while it is possible to unearth a Dembele or an Edouard – who still cost the club a record fee when he signed a permanent deal last summer – is that it is not an easy task.

Celtic’s business model has been long established but even in the heady days of the likes of the previously unknown Victor Wanyama and Virgil van Dijk, the striking position was always a problem, Gary Hooper excluded.

Spoiled in recent seasons with the pedigree of Dembele and Edouard, going out and doing that again will be a tough proposition for a club who haven’t yet made a decision on Nick Hammond who was brought in as a temporary head of recruitment following the departure of Lee Congerton.


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But with Leigh Griffiths still struggling for full fitness and Vakoun Bayo still to make his name for himself at the club, there could be a real problem this summer ahead of Champions League qualifiers.

Aside from the fact that Edouard’s exploits will inevitably bring suitors to the table this summer, the striker has already spoken of his wish to go and play for France in the Olympics in Japan, games which would clash with Celtic’s early European qualifying rounds.

Having bagged four goals in two games for the French under-21 side last month in games against Albania and Czech Republic, Edouard will know himself that his stock will rise far more significantly in the colours of his country than it will with Celtic.

The Parkhead side paid £9m for Edouard but will more than double their money whenever they cash in on him. And if recent evidence is to be offered, then there is a fairly compelling case for suggesting they hold out for top dollar.

Kieran Tierney has barely muddied his boots at Arsenal but has already won plaudits for hitting the ground running after making an immediate impact while Dembele and Van Dijk’s career trajectory scorns the theory that Scottish football cannot advance players.

But whatever is imminent with Edouard’s situation, there is an obvious need for a busy January from Celtic as they look to plan ahead. Gelling players into the team rather than blooding them at the start of a season would seem like a sensible way to go rather than the rush and push of a frantic summer.

And another thing...

Steven Gerrard bemoaned the lack of respect that UEFA gives the Europa League, insisting that the governing body does little other than pay lip service to its second tier tournament. The lack of VAR at this stage of the competition underpins the feeling that the Europa League is an afterthought compared to the wealth and glitz of the premier competition.


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Problem is, it could get significantly worse for Scottish teams as the rich clubs seek to get richer. At the end of last month UEFA approved plans for a new third competition – the Europa Conference League – which would slash the number of teams competing in the current Europa League from 48 to 32.

Alarmingly for Scottish clubs, only teams in the top 15 ranked nations will contest the Europa League. To frame that, Scotland are currently ranked 19th and would need a particular kind of miracle to get them into 15th by the time that UEFA wish to roll out this tournament in 2021-22.

Recent results have nudged Scotland up but the big problem is they have only this season and next to try and leap four places and avoid a slide into a third level tournament.

It adds to the pressure on both Celtic and Ranges to acquit themselves well this term while also revealing the true and lasting extent of the damage that early exits do to the country and its co-efficient.