French Eddie, welcome to the show that never ends.
It feels weird, you know, to be writing a piece like this about a guy who was already at Celtic Park last season.
It feels weird to be hailing a new signing as if he was a new player and not simply giving a long term deal to someone we already had. And doubtless, others elsewhere will find the euphoria over it somewhat difficult to understand.
But they are wrong, and the euphoria is real and the good vibes are justified.
Today we signed a superstar, and it does seem as if he will eventually cost us a club record fee – Paul67 says £4.5 million up front which is broadly in line with the suggestion Brendan made that the agreed fee wasn’t going to be close to £7 million.
Surprise, surprise it also turns out to be exactly half of what Sky Sports said it would cost us last night, with their ridiculous assertion that the price had been £4.5 million but Celtic had been lax and therefore it doubled.
That was exactly what I said it was last night, a brazen lie.
Everybody at the club is positively beaming over this one, and they should be.
Man oh man, how they should be.
Last season, this kid burst onto the scene. Some wondered why we’d signed him in the first place and whether he had anything to offer. On the day he started against Motherwell he had scored one goal, in his debut against Hamilton in a 4-1 win. He had played some part in games against Paris St Germain, Ross County, Hibs, Dundee and the Fir Park club, all without finding the net again. One notorious post over on the Facebook group slated the decision to start him in language so venomous it was recommended you only read it wearing a gas mask.
Boy oh boy, what fun we had with the writer after that game finished!
(We still are, if I’m being honest!)
Odsonne’s hat-trick that day was the announcement that a major talent was plying his trade at our club, but I knew before then that people inside Celtic Park were very happy with the kid’s progress. He wouldn’t score again until a 5-1 win over Brechin, but Brendan and his coaching team had already seen enough and knew they wanted him here.
As their confidence in him was made clear to him, so too his emotion for the club grew.
It was a matter of time before we saw the quality the coaches already knew was there. He scored against Hearts and then against Morton … he now had seven goals for the club. We had a good sense of his natural ability by then, but we had yet to see his best.
The performance at Ibrox, from the second he came on, was what we’d been waiting for. He took his goal that day with thrilling confidence.
He knew exactly what he was doing from the moment he started running and the style he finished with … fantastic. When he scored late against Hibs at Easter Road we already knew we wanted to see more of him. When he was announced as the starter against Sevco at Parkhead I thought we might see the second derby hat-trick in the space of two years. He didn’t get that, but he ripped them apart and scored two.
He has eleven goals in twenty-nine games … most of those appearances were coming off the bench, which means his goals to minutes’ ratio is even better than that one in three average, which itself is pretty decent for a striker.
Odsonne Edouard is 20 years old. In footballing terms he’s a baby. An entire career is stretched out in front of him, and he’s committed the next four years of it to Celtic and the way he talks suggests that the stay will be even longer than that.
“From the moment I walked into Celtic, the club has felt like home to me,” he told our official site today. “I have been made to feel so welcome by everyone at the club and our fans have given me such brilliant support. Celtic is one of the world’s great football clubs and I was desperate to make my move permanent. The scenes from May when we achieved such a historic Double Treble and made the city come alive are still very fresh in our memories. To see our fans so happy is the reason you play football and now we want to do everything we can to bring our great supporters even more success.”
He joins Olivier Ntcham and Moussa Dembele as part of Celtic’s French Connection.
I have clamoured for half a season now for that unit to be kept together and perhaps even enhanced by more signings from their bottomless pool of talent. Today, E-Tims reported the first rumour of Dembele signing a contract extension … I’ll tell you right now that’ll make my summer.
We have the nucleus here of a very special football team. The club deserves immense credit for putting together a record-breaking deal for such a fine young footballer.
People elsewhere can sneer as they will, but when our coaching staff made up their minds about this kid most other Scottish football fans had written him off as a cheap loan deal that hadn’t worked out … but Brendan and the guys at Lennoxtown knew, and in due course the rest of us saw, in flashes, exactly what had them so excited. It would have been awful – it would have been a huge mistake – not to watch this player grow further in our colours.
Odsonne Edouard is not a loanee any longer. He will eventually be the most expensive signing in the history of Celtic. He is not a fringe player any longer. He is the cornerstone of Brendan’s revolution. And this is the start of our window.
This is the opening move of our long game.