FORMER Celtic striker Andy Walker has revealed a conversation with former Hoops boss Martin O’Neill before the champions’ 5-1 Premiership opener against Hamilton Accies at Parkhead at the weekend.
Main topic of the chat between the two ex-Celts was the quality of Odsonne Edouard who then went out and scored a superb trio of goals as the Hoops took over where they left off last season at the top of the table in their quest for 10 titles in succession.
Walker, who was a star in Billy McNeill’s wonderful double winners in the club’s centenary, told Sky Sports News: “A hat-trick on the opening day is headline stuff for any player – but just how good is Edouard? Could he cut it in the Premier League or any of the other big leagues in Europe?
“What about the international scene; would he score regularly at that level?
“I enjoyed a brief chat with Martin O’Neill before he went on air as part of Sky’s coverage of the season-opener at Celtic Park and he was in no doubt that Edouard is the finest striker to wear the Hoops since Henrik Larsson.
“For the avoidance of doubt, that’s a massive compliment. Joining O’Neill in the studio was Sky’s other guest John Hartson and he scored more than a century of goals for the club. O’Neil also signed Chris Sutton; he, too, was a huge success, as were the strikers that followed them; Georgios Samaras, Gary Hooper, Kris Commons, Scott McDonald and Leigh Griffiths.
“But there’s a style and panache about Edouard that sets him apart from the rest. Absolutely, he could play in the Premier League or anywhere else in Europe for that matter.
“I think he’d be a huge success at one of the top-six clubs in England.
“At 22, his game will only improve and I suppose the biggest wish for Celtic fans is that their French Eddy stays as long as the magical Swede Larsson did, but I think it’s highly unlikely.
BACK OF THE NET…Odsonne Edouard scores the first of his hat-trick against Hamilton Accies at the weekend.
“Larsson was happy enough to be with Celtic for seven seasons, enjoying one of the best atmospheres that any player could dream about when Celtic are on Champions League duty under the lights in the east end of Glasgow.
“Believe me, there’s nothing quite like it.
“There are plenty of commentators in England who scoff at the level of competition in Scotland, but for Larsson it was enough to satisfy one of Europe’s great players before he left for Barcelona and changed the course of the 2006 Champions League Final when he came on as a substitute to help the Catalans beat Arsenal 2-1.”
Walker added: “Celtic have a good record of sourcing untapped talent and it’ll be a huge boost to everyone at the club if Edouard is still plying his trade in the Premiership when this transfer window closes.
“A more up-to-date comparison for Edouard would be his fellow-Frenchman Moussa Dembele. He played with Celtic under Brendan Rodgers for a couple of years before Lyon paid almost £20million for him. The speculation now is that Dembele could end up at Old Trafford with Manchester United forced to pay a massive fee.
“In my view, Edouard is every bit as talented, if not more so, and it’s easy to imagine him starring for a club as big as United. Who knows, maybe even Rodgers would like him to help Leicester maintain their ambitions in the top half of the table.
“Having watched Newcastle play a few times over the last 12 months, I believe Edouard is a better team player and goalscorer than Joelinton – and the Geordies paid around £40million for him.”
Edouard will go into the shop window again on Sunday when Neil Lennon takes Scotland’s title kings to Rugby Park to face Kilmarnock