When Odsonne Edouard was only 19, his career hit a crisis point.
On loan from Paris Saint-Germain at the moment, Toulouse swiftly washed their hands of him. The episode, for which he had been given a four-month suspended prison sentence and a hefty fine, was a catalyst in forcing the promising young forward from France.
At Celtic at Scotland, his livelihood is quite literally a million miles away from these dark days three decades back. He’s considered as one of the quietest members of the group, although the only shooting he currently does is using a ball towards an opposing aim.
He’s dragged himself away from the abyss and in the years and months ahead may want to combine the steady but significant stream of Celtic players who’ve joined the Premier League. That will supply the confirmation that his profession was rescued from jeopardy.
Fraser Forster, Victor Wanyama and most especially Virgil van Dijk all moved south to differentiate themselves to varying degrees in England, while Kieran Tierney would definitely be doing so today at Arsenal were it not for persistent injury.
In the summer, this group is defined to be bolstered by Edouard, a forward who has established himself as the very best in the Premiership, and one Hoops fan believe is capable of getting even better than Moussa Dembele, now at Lyon but connected with the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United.
The 22-year-old joined Celtic on loan originally from PSG in the summer of 2017 and spent one year as Dembele’s understudy in Parkhead before getting his replacement when a club album £9 million ($11.7m) was paid to secure his services on a full-time foundation, funded largely by Dembele’s return to France.
“In Odsonne, we’ve signed one of the most exciting young strikers in Europe. Celtic will be a place where he could flourish,” erstwhile manager Brendan Rodgers proclaimed when the Frenchman first came in Scotland.
Edouard has scored 56 times in 119 games, placing on 29 longer, while Dembele provides a slightly better ratio with notched 51 goals and 18 assists in 94 matches.
Even so, this year Edouard has thrived, mustering a 20-goal effort when finding the web on average once every 89 minutes in the Premiership. Dembele, who had been troubled by hamstring problems over his two decades in Scotland, never handled more than 17.
Those around Celtic are naturally cautious over assessing the set, but it seems likely that when Edouard does proceed, he’ll eclipse the #20m ($26m) they scooped because of his predecessor.
Edouard’s red-hot level — that has seen him score seven goals in six league fixtures since the winter break as Celtic have picked up maximum points to start a 10-point gap on Rangers near the peak of the standings — has earned the highest praise.
Speaking after a 2-0 victory over Motherwell, where Edouard scored both goals, director Neil Lennon said: “He is just magnificent. He was magnificent all evening but the second half a few of his link-up play, his departure, and his ending was only world-class.
“Odsonne’s only a unique talent.”
“He is the nearest thing to Henrik Larsson I have seen,” Sutton said, comparing Edouard to his former team-mate and the best Celtic striker of the contemporary age.
Given the reverence where Larsson is held in Glasgow’s East End, acclaim can’t come any higher.
On the surface of things, both are extremely different forward, with Edouard considerably taller and more muscular than Larsson, whose scoring record nonetheless remains untouchable. On the contrary, it’s for the qualities, both technical and psychological, that they bring into the game for which they’ve been compared.
“He’s that aura about him,” Lennon said, describing the Edouard X-factor.
“He can play on his own or can fall into the pockets and spaces. He has great feet, his link-up play is becoming a lot better, which is actually important for him. His goal tally is superb.”
And the manager considers that global recognition isn’t out of the question, despite competition from the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, and Olivier Giroud to attribute for Didier Deschamps’ world champions.
“I am sure they’re monitoring him very closely,” he said.
For the time being, Edouard seems to be an unstoppable force who might wind up playing for some of Europe’s greatest clubs. Those plastic pellets shot with Airsoft guns belong to a dark past. His future is now far wealthier.