THE improvements that Odsonne Edouard has made in every area of his game this season have seen him blossom into one of Europe’s most deadly, exciting and sought-after young strikers.

But Edouard – who picked up, to the surprise of nobody in Scottish football, the Ladbrokes Premiership Player of the Month award for January yesterday – is intent on progressing further still in the years ahead. 

The young man who grew up in France idolising the Brazilian great Ronaldo as a boy has lofty ambitions. 
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“I would like to become the best striker in the world,” he said yesterday after being asked what he hoped to achieve in the game. “One of the best strikers anyway. That’s it. I don’t know when that will happen. I live day to day and I enjoy my life. We will see in time. We will see.”

It is, even with his undoubted ability and physical attributes, quite a target to set himself. But nobody who has seen the Celtic centre forward in action in the 2019/20 campaign, since play restarted after the winter shutdown especially, would write off his chances. 

Edouard has scored seven goals in his last six games to take his tally for this season to 24, which is already one more than he netted last term, and send Celtic seven points clear of Rangers at the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership table. He is enjoying his rich vein of form.  

“It’s been very good,” he said. “My career has just started so I can’t say that this is the best I will be, but I feel good. Overall everything has improved. I am still young. I am training a lot and every year I become more mature as a player. I work hard on all aspects of my game all the time. So everything is improving.”

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The France Under-21 internationalist admits he regularly watches the world’s great strikers in action in order to pick up pointers from their performances and try to introduce elements of their play into his own game.  

“There are a lot of strikers I like,” he said. “I don’t have one specific striker at the moment that I admire the most. Ronaldo, the Brazilian one, is the best for me. In the present moment I watch a lot of different strikers and I try to learn from them.”

Edouard’s homework appears to be paying off. His mesmerising display and prolific strike rate in recent weeks have seen him compared to legendary Celtic striker Henrik Larsson by no less a judge than Chris Sutton. That sort of praise could go to the head of many 22-year-olds. But the laid-back predator takes it all in his considerable stride.    

“It’s very flattering, but I try not to listen too much to that,” he said. “Henrik Larsson is a Celtic legend – when I was little he was one of the best players in Europe so it’s amazing that some people compare me to him.”

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Edouard has, much to the delight of Celtic supporters, been paired up front with another Celtic goalscoring great, Leigh Griffiths, of late with noteworthy results. He is relishing the partnership every bit as much as the fans. What is more, he is convinced he has improved because of it. 

“I enjoy it very much,” he said. “We’ve seen our performances so I think I can say that it has worked. Leigh is a great finisher and we’ve always had good communication, right from the moment we started playing together. I hope that continues. 

“I learn from everyone here every day, but Leigh has qualities I don’t possess so I can certainly learn from him. I’m someone who’s willing to listen and learn a lot, that’s how I behave.”
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Edouard, who is set to be restored to the Celtic starting line-up in their Premiership game against Hearts at Parkhead this evening after sitting out the William Hill Scottish Cup tie against Clyde on Sunday, appears almost certain to depart for a multi-million pound transfer fee in the summer. 

Yet, the player, who has helped the Glasgow club win trebles in the last two seasons, is only focusing on helping Neil Lennon’s side win their game tonight, progress in the Europa League and complete another clean sweep of domestic trophies come May.  

“Today I am at Celtic,” he said. “I have two years left on my contract. Then we will see what happens after that. But I am very happy here and I enjoy myself. I am more focused on the five months that we have left for the rest of this season and the two trophies we are competing for. The best moment at Celtic is always lifting trophies. It (another treble) is our objective and that’s it.”