Date: 5th October 2019 at 5:19pm
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One of football’s most – and also frustrating – aspects is the room it creates for debate.

Who is the best player ever? How would a modern day top side compare if playing an elite squad from previous decades? And so on.

Many an hour has been whiled away arguing such points, and the reason for this is that it is often to prove a particular case.

Answering such queries often depends on the criteria you use to decide. Is it goals scored? Trophies won? Individual awards?

Even in the contemporary case of Messi versus Ronaldo, there is no obvious consensus, which inevitably leads to disagreements.

Scottish football currently has its own topic of contention, in the shape of deciding whether the country’s top striker is Odsonne Edouard or Alfredo Morelos.

A lot of the noise around this issue tends to be clouded by allegiance, namely the fact that Rangers supporters will argue in favour of Morelos, and Celtic fans for Edouard.

Therefore, instead of this approach, it is worth looking at the facts and statistics that lie behind both claims, allowing then a decision to be made.

The first and most logical place to start would seem to be in goals scored.

In this current season, Morelos has scored 14 goals in 18 club games. This follows on from 30 goals in 48 games last season and 18 goals in 43 games in 2017-2018.

All of this adds up to 62 goals in 109 games, a ratio of around one goal every two games.

Odsonne Edouard on the other hand has scored nine club goals this season, across 16 games. Last season his statistics were 22 goals in 52 games and 11 goals in 29 games during 2017-2018.

This gives Edouard a total of 42 goals in 97 games, a statistic close to one goal in every two-and-a-half games played.

On the face of it, this gives the edge to Morelos, who has a much better goals-to-games ratio when it comes to club football.

However, this is perhaps too simplistic as a measure of ability; where the goals have actually taken place is of also important.

In domestic football, Edouard has statistics that are more impressive when it comes to goals being scored in high pressure and important games.

Last season, Edouard scored in the semi-final and final of the Scottish Cup. In addition, in the last three seasons Edouard has played seven times against Rangers, scoring three and in another creating an assist.

Morelos on the other hand has no such high profile strikes. He has not scored any semi-final or final goals (albeit he has had not had the same opportunities to do that), and he is yet to score against Celtic.

In Europe, the picture is different, but also difficult to compare. Edouard’s games have taken place in the Champions League, Champions League qualifiers, Europa League group stages and qualifiers.

Morelos however has only played in Europa League qualifiers and group stages. Obviously, this suggests that Edouard has generally played against better opponents, making full comparison difficult.

However, it is worth noting that when taking out these differences – looking only at games in the Europa League group stages – the statistics slightly favour Morelos.

In the past three years, Edouard has played 11 Europa League group stage games and scored three goals.

In that same period, Morelos has played seven group stage games, also scoring three goals (but giving him a better goals-to-games ratio).

In terms of wider contribution to the team, measured in terms of goal assists, both men have similar statistics.

In his 109 games (going back to the 2017-2018 until present day), Morelos has set up 22 goals, whilst over this same period Edouard has played 92 games and set up 17 goals.

This gives each player an average of setting up a goal for teammate once every five games.

Another factor of relevance is how reliable an individual footballer is on the park, particularly in terms of disciplinary records.

In this regard, Edouard is clearly light years ahead of Morelos.

In the three years previously mentioned, Edouard has been booked five times, and has no red cards.

However Morelos has been booked 32 times, with a further five red cards being issued to him.

The one factor, which has not yet been mentioned, is international football, and each player has some claim to success in this regard.

Edouard has represented at under-17, under-18, under 19 and under-21 levels. In that time, he has played 38 games, scoring an impressive 28 goals.

This includes two games for the under-21 team, with four goals scored.

Morelos has played for Colombia at under-17, under-20 and full international levels. He has played 13 games in total, scoring seven goals (albeit none at full level).

By this measure, Edouard clearly has the edge. Not only does he have a much better goals-to-games ratio, but also involvement with a country that has a higher FIFA ranking (France are second and Colombia are ninth).

The reality of this debate – much as it may cause chagrin amongst the partisan – is that both are good strikers, and in a two-man forward line, each would have a strong claim for inclusion.

The debate itself is unlikely to formerly settled, at least not before eventually bid farewell to Glasgow.

Edouard, age 21, is contracted to Celtic until June 2022, and Morelos (age 23) is due to stay in Scotland for a year longer, until May 2023.

Both therefore have long-term deals and, in theory, neither club has to be forced to sell unless and until their valuation is met (this takes out external pressures such as need to sell, which may be more relevant at Ibrox than Celtic Park).

Thus, whilst we do not have an answer yet, we will eventually get one, although possibly not for a few more years.

If you were the scout or manager for a top-level team (say for instance Arsenal or Lyon, to give examples of two teams to which Celtic have sold in recent times), where would your money go?

Morelos or Edouard?

Morelos boasts the best overall goals statistics, with one goal in roughly each 180 minutes of football played.

Edouard on the other hand has a much better rate in high profile and pressure games, as well as possessing a drastically better disciplinary record.

Edouard’s case is also boosted by having a better international record, and having previously been at clubs that suggest a higher pedigree (Edouard has also played for PSG and Toulouse, whilst Morelos was at Helsinki and Medellin).

When the transfer fees are eventually banked, and surely both men will move on at some point, we will know whom outside opinions deemed to be the best bet.

But before then, based on his ability to score (and remain on the park) when it truly matters, Edouard remains the resoundingly best choice.

NB: All statistics are taken from the very detailed Transfermarkt website, and are correct as of Friday 4 October 2019.

Matthew Marr is a Celtic fan and … and he wants to be Edouard. 

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