There are things that people at Celtic know they can’t predict; what the late Donald Rumsfeld might have called the “known unknowns.” We don’t know, for example, if the virus is truly behind us or if it has some more surprises up its sleeve, the sort of thing that could set us back a ways and keep us from being able to properly move forward.
We know this could happen. We just don’t know if it will. Nonetheless, the club has to be prepared for it, and I am sure that in some desk at Celtic Park is a plan for what we’ll do if lockdowns are imposed on this country yet again. It will probably look a little like what we have now, with limited numbers of fans allowed in games for the remainder of the season.
One of those known unknowns involves Odsonne Edouard. Unless he signs a new deal we have to accept the first offer that comes in and which comes close to our valuation. We have to. This isn’t even up for debate. We can’t write off an asset worth an eight figure sum. He will go. It’s just a matter of when. We need to be well prepared for that in advance.
Indeed, with the money for him virtually guaranteed and with the Ajer money already sitting in the club’s bank account, we ought to be far along the road to finding his replacement already.
That deal needs to be done before Edouard has left the building.
I cannot stress enough how important that is. If a player of this quality leaves we need a quality replacement and because we don’t know how long it will take to get a deal for Eddie don’t we can’t wait until we do. The search should be well underway and it’s imperative that a deal gets done in the shortest possible time.
There are options all across Europe, but Strachan is right that we won’t be shopping at the top table. Of course we won’t, but there are good strikers all across Europe who are in our price bracket and who would enhance this team up front.
The first criteria – scoring goals – is easily checked out; websites all over Europe keep tabs on who the most potent strikers have been over the past couple of years. There are leagues – Belgium, Holland, France and in Eastern Europe – where you can find 20 goal strikers doing good jobs at unfancied clubs. Most of these guys won’t be good enough to make the grade, but a good goals to game ratio is where the hunt should start. It’s served us well in the past.
Bear in mind though, there are strikers out there who don’t get as many goals as they should because they either play in negative teams or teams who can’t give them service or who are just being played out of position. Henrik Larsson suffered from being played wide right for a while, so current form – or last season’s form – has to be looked past.
Our scouts need to have been working on this a while. They need to have some kind of idea who they want, and my own view on was pretty clear until recently; one footballer stood out a mile, in terms of his goals and his games and he was in the affordable box.
His name is Jean-Pierre Nsame, of Young Boys in Switzerland, for whom he’s scored 97 goals in 167 games, a phenomenal record. He beeped onto the radar back in April, after the club across the city was linked with him the year before.
He would have cost us around £6 million … a bargain considering his quality.
Why isn’t that an option? Because he was on the radar in April, sure, but around three weeks later he suffered an Achilles injury which has ruled him out for months.
He was option, one of many … and Celtic has to be thinking along those lines.
They also have to move fast, faster than they’ve moved up until now. Edouard will go. We know he will. It’s a matter of when, not if, and if we’re waiting until he does we’re limiting our options and the chance to bring in the right guy at the right price.