Celtic Should Push the Boat Out For Odsonne Edouard
Written by: Matt Rhein @TheBackPassRule
Since Brendan Rodgers' arrival at Celtic, he has been able to bring a few talented young players from some of the biggest clubs in Europe on loan. The likes of Patrick Roberts have worked out well for the Bhoys, while Charly Musonda was not able to contribute much to the Parkhead club. Odsonne Edouard was another high profile loan deal, with the young French striker coming from Parisian giants Paris St. Germain.
The striker's deal was a bit different, with most reporting that Celtic had the option to buy the young attacker at the end of his loan spell. While there has been some different reports on what it would take to buy Edouard, the numbers the Frenchman have put out are good justification that Celtic should be willing to pay any of those reported values.
Odsonne Edouard appeared in 1,067 minutes in SPFL league play for Celtic this season. Despite this, the young French striker was tied for the most non-penalty goals at Celtic in the league at 9 goals. He also had the highest Goals per 90 minutes at Celtic in the league at 0.76. Now, fellow French striker Moussa Dembele and Leigh Griffiths also had 9 non-penalty league goals and they both faced time off the pitch due to injury, so comparing Edouard to his Celtic peers this season might not be the best justification for what perhaps could be a record fee for Celtic to secure Edouard's services permanently.
While what a fair transfer fee for him may still be up for debate, Moussa Dembele's performance in the 2016-2017 SPFL season has general acceptance of being a very good one. The large transfer fees rumored for Dembele originated due to his great play in '16-17, so his statistics during that campaign would be a good standard to compare a Celtic striker to. So what happens if we compare Celtic's newest French striker Odsonne Edouard to Dembele?
Looking at the underlying stats for Odsonne Edouard compared to Moussa Dembele both last season and this season, we see Edouard compare very favorably to his countryman. In fact, Edouard has better underlying numbers than Dembele both seasons for Non-Penalty Goals per 90, Non-Penalty xG per 90, and xG per Attempt. French Eddy also had a higher overall goals per 90 and overall xG per 90 than Dembele this season, with very comparable attempts per 90 numbers. Looking at Odsonne Edouard's numbers, they suggest a player that can match the tremendous output that Moussa Dembele has in his Celtic career.
Jason has talked on this site about shot percentage and expected shot percentage. We see in that article, Edouard did overachieve his xSH% last season, scoring on 50% of his shots on target when he was expected to beat the keeper on 40% of those shots on target. With this in mind, we could see some regression in Edouard's goal scoring if he were to return to Celtic. However, he did not overachieve to the point where we would expect a large crash back to earth. Furthermore, Edouard had one of the better xSH% in the league at 40%, so he is getting high quality shots.
So why is Odsonne Edouard so effective? He is able to use his physical gifts to get him into good shooting positions consistently. Looking at his shot map above from the 2017-2018 SPFL season, we see over 63% of his attempts came from the "Danger Zone" (or area in the 18 yard box between the lengths of the 6 yard box). He is averaging a 0.20 xG per shot, meaning on average his shot has a 20% chance of being scored. A striker after my own heart, only 6% of Edouard's attempts came from headers which are typically more difficult to score.
In the goal above, we see nearly all that Odsonne Edouard has to offer Celtic as a striker. He first collects an errant Hamilton pass. He then uses his strength the hold off the Hamilton player. From there, he uses his speed to beat 3 of his opposition. He plays a 1-2 to get the ball back in a high probability scoring area where he finishes (though perhaps the Accies keeper could have done a bit better). Edouard was able to do this consistently, behavior that seems repeatable if the French striker remains in the green and white hoops.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, there have been reports varying between £6-10 million as a price for Edouard, all of which would be a record fee for Celtic to pay. While this seems like a lot of money for even Celtic, it would be a sustainable purchase for the Glasgow club.
We can assume Moussa Dembele is destined for greener pastures for a fee presumably at least at the large end of the range reported it would take to buy Edouard. These proceeds can be used to buy a readymade replacement for Dembele in French Eddy. While Leigh Griffiths continues to put up great numbers in his Celtic career, he is starting to reach the age we can expect him to regress going forward.
Celtic could also try to find a cheaper option to replace Dembele on the transfer market, but that would represent more risk for the club. Even if countless hours of tape has been poured over and the stats for a hypothetical striker signing have been calculated, there is still a risk this signing might not work out. With Edouard, we have already seen what he can do in a Celtic kit. It may cost more, but buying Odsonne Edouard would present less risk for a player we have seen thrive in Scotland and could be the next big money transfer for Celtic to one of the larger leagues in Europe.
This article was written with the aid of StrataData, which is property of Stratagem Technologies. StrataData powers the StrataBet Sports Trading Platform, in addition to StrataBet Premium Recommendations.