What The Hell Happened To Celtic’s French Superstars After They Left Parkhead?

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Today there are stories in the papers about how Crystal Palace insiders, as well as prominent fans, have expressed their frustration about Odsonne Edouard and his lack of impact. The big guy has simply not performed as he was expected to.

Indeed, if you saw Odsonne’s debut for Palace then the disappointment they are expressing is all the clearer and easy to understand. Nobody expected this guy to be a flop, and whilst it’s too early to call him that in a definitive sense, he has not been setting the world on fire.

Edouard was, until a certain Japanese striker made his mark, the best striker I had watched at the club since the King. As the excellent Celtic By Numbers site pointed out today, for a couple of seasons there he was operating at a truly elite level.

When he left Celtic he had a storming initial start at Palace. Since then, he has flat-lined. The problem with that is that we should have netted a big sell-on fee for him when he left there; as iot stands we don’t look likely to get that.

There have been a number of disappointments on that front in the last few years, and it’s unusual as so many of our players have gone on to net us massive sums. The disappointment is compounded by the fact that three of the most noteworthy have been players who should have gone to do very well indeed. It’s stranger that all three were French.

In the case of Olivier Ntcham, we shouldn’t be too surprised, of course. He was a problem at Celtic, a player who blew hot and cold and who sometimes didn’t seem terribly committed to the club. He doesn’t seem particularly committed to any club. For all his undisputed talents, he has been a miserable failure at Swansea, a level way below where he expected to be.

We lost a good chance to sell him when his value was still good, but at that point he looked like an asset rather than a liability. There was no chance of him remaining at Celtic in this campaign, not considering his testy behaviour and his lack of hunger.

Moussa Dembele gave us a lot of great memories and great games before he left, and although there was a lot of anger at the manner of his departure, he wasn’t kidding when he dropped big hints about Rodgers being the real one we had to watch.

I remember sitting in an Ibiza beachside bar watching him score twice against City in the Champions League and thinking we had a bona-fide world class footballer on our hands. He had not long before slammed a hat-trick past the Ibrox club.

But Dembele hasn’t been a major hit either, and that’s really surprising as I expected him to take the French league by storm. He certainly has the talent, but so too do the others. Why hasn’t it worked out for these guys? What has gone wrong for them?

Dembele, to be fair, has done better than the others and this season he was pretty damned impressive in a lot of ways. He scored 21 goals in 30 league games … but they are still willing to let him go if the right offer comes in this summer.

Some folk has said to me that French players are known to be temperamental. I remember writing about how some of them operate best when they have countrymen around them, and this certainly seems to have been the case. We saw the best of the three of them when they were at Parkhead together, and especially at the same time.

Perhaps a move would bring the best out of Moussa. Perhaps the same is true of Edouard; I think both of them made a huge error in leaving Celtic too early in their careers. They could have continued to develop at our club … neither could wait to get out the door. Edouard left just twelve goals shy of the 100 club; that’s how big a talent he is … but in England he has six league goals in 28 appearances, which is a shocking return.

He at least gave us near enough four seasons … Dembele scuttled out after barely two. Ntcham gave us four seasons, but how committed was he? He looked, at times, like he’d rather have been anywhere else. He is a shadow of what we expected him to be.

Dembele might get a move in the summer; indeed, he almost certainly will, and there is talk of interest from England. That will give Celtic a nice little boost to their transfer budget, with a sell-on fee coming our way. It might be a while before we see one of those for Edouard … there is no chance – since we tore up his contract – of us ever getting one for Ntcham.

The French players have been amongst our most disappointing exports … although they all gave us outstanding memories, even Ntcham, with his goal against Lazio being a particular highlight. Eddie gave us enough of them that picking out a specific one is difficult; the goal that won the Ibrox game 3-2 is my favourite of his. Dembele … he scored over 50 times and the second in that game, the equaliser at the end of the half, was sublime.

I still wish them well, even Ntcham, who chucked it on us. I am disappointed to see Edouard struggle at Palace; I really expected him to be the best of the three.

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  • Jim says:

    Edouard contracted Covid and he never looked the same player after it.

    A lot of people thought he had just chucked it but it’s possible there is a physical issue.

    I hope he makes it, he was a great player for us until the last season.

    Difficult to know what the issue was with Ntcham. In flashes he would show excellent technique and his Lazio goal showed how good he was. But week on week he just didn’t perform. With his talent, he should have been saying, ‘I’m going to boss this and be man of the match’, but he never seemed to have the desire to make a game his own.

    Dembele should continue to have a good career if he avoids injuries.

  • Benjamin says:

    Dembele will turn out to be the best of the group. He’s always seemed to have that hunger to improve and perform regardless of circumstances. While James may scoff at his performances this year in France, he had more league goals this year (21) than some guys named Neymar (13) and Messi (6) combined.

    • John smith says:

      Edouard,best striker since Henrik,,?Mmm, Dembele then Hooper for me,,,,ntcham ,the less said the better,,HAIL,HAIL,,,,,

    • Phil says:

      Three players who looked decent in the tinpot spfl but flounder at a higher level in proper football environments

  • MarkE says:

    I was glad to see the back of Ntcham and Edouard! Ntcham just wasn’t good enough for us, despite one or two shining moments; his concentration levels were abysmal and he looked out of place no matter which position he played in!

    Edouard, i was calling for the club to sign permanently, and was glad when we did, but whatever it was going on behind the scenes with him and the club led to him not trying in games during his last season with us; he actually looked to be deliberately sabotaging us by mis-hitting shots!

  • jrm63 says:

    Not surprized at all. He will only run the inside left channel. It is like watch a tram on a line. Even Scottish defences got used to it. Secondly, he cannot hit the ball properly in open play. He can only hit it with the inside of his foot and then it barely makes the goal line. Then there is his general attitude.

  • Jim Duffy says:

    Never ever forget Stephan mahe,one of or best full back warriors ever,this guy was terrific for us and by fuck he could dig in ,but once more orange masonic Scottish refs ,used to book him and send him of for fuck all.stephen Mache was a true Celtic warrior , Mahe,not mache.

  • Sean Foley says:

    I think edouard made a huge mistake joining palace. Its not like they play expansive attacking football! More experienced higher profile strikers have struggled there.

  • Jim Duffy says:

    Sorry I meant to say that Mahe , would have put all our french players to shame , Stephan Mahe was a French warrior for Celtic

  • Seppington says:

    Dembele over Edo
    uard every day of the week. Not a fan of that languid playing style of Eddy at all, too often infuriating as it looks like he wasn’t trying hard enough (even before it became clear he zctually wasn’t trying hard enough) Dembele generally looked ready to bust a gut and I think would have been great under Ange, Edouard not so much.
    Still, it is what it is and we are where we are and I am happy enough about that tbh.

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