Odsonne Edouard: Liverpool's Potential Back Up Forward
Liverpool’s front three, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, are world renowned for their quality and on field compatibility.
Behind them in the Reds’ pecking order are Xherdan Shaqiri and Divock Origi, both of whom played their roles — with the Belgian especially prominent in the march to Madrid — in the club’s sixth European Cup triumph last June.
However, due to injury and inconsistency of performance when selected, neither Shaqiri nor Origi have truly grasped their chances and this has lead to Liverpool being linked to other forwards.
Bundesliga duo Timo Werner, of Red Bull Leipzig, and Jadon Sancho, the Borussia Dortmund flier, have both been linked with big money switches to the Anfield team in recent weeks.
The African Cup of Nations will revert back to its previous format, with the competition taking place in January of next year, bang in the middle of the domestic campaign and this could see Liverpool without both Salah and Mane — and, additionally, Naby Keita, for up to six weeks.
Without two thirds of their effective attacking trident, the onus will be on Origi and Shaqiri — or possibly even Takumi Minamino — to pick up the slack of Salah and Mane, which is obviously no mean feat.
With doubts lingering over the Swiss and Belgians respective capabilities to provide cover of a sufficient quality over the course of the African Championships, the Reds could well dip into the transfer market for a solution; not only for the short term, but also for the long run.
While Sancho and Werner are the obvious options, Odsonne Edouard of Celtic could be a player that ticks many boxes on the spreadsheets on Michael Edwards’ famous laptop.
The 22 year old, who initially joined Celtic on loan from Toulouse in 2017, has grown into the Hoops’ attacking talisman as they look to claim their 9th consecutive SPL title and compete in the latter stages of the Europa League.
Standing 6’1 and with a burly physique, it would be easy to pigeonhole the former PSG youth product into the target man category, but Edouard’s tool box of talents is much broader than your typical physical forward.
Blessed with pace, the French Guiana born hitman is accustomed to drifting wide into channels and taking the ball deeper and looking to link up with the players stationed further up the pitch. With five assists as well as 20 SPL goals this season, Edouard — who is also capable of accurately home free kicks — has a level of creativity to match his goal scoring prowess.
Many fans will perhaps turn their nose up at a player who plies his trade in a league as scantly regarded as the SPL, but one half of the Reds’ solid rearguard — Andy Robertson and Virgil van Dijk — cut their teeth in that league. Others, like Sadio Mane, Takumi Minamino and Naby Keita, played in “non top five” leagues before making their switches to the Reds, proving that there is talent everywhere and snobbery towards certain leagues is baseless.
Playing in a league where your team is dominant in every game is a useful tactical preparation for playing for the European Champions who, almost on a weekly basis, face deep blocked defences of teams whose sole ambition is to stop Liverpool.
Edouard is well accustomed to facing teams with ten men behind the ball and should any move to to the Reds transpire, the French U21 international will be well versed in the art of puncturing low blocked defence.
Besides, the 22 year old’s record — for those who will continue to disparage the Scottish league — in big games is exemplary. A regular scourge of Steven Gerrard’s Rangers, Edouard has scored six times and provided two assists in six appearances against Celtic’s eternal rivals.
In Europe, too, the forward has shone. The Parkhead side surprisingly topped their European group, which contained Italian title contenders Lazio, Romanian’s Cluj and Ligue 1 side Rennes.
In these games, Edouard scored once and laid on two assists as he proved he can bring the type of form that see’s him dominate Scottish football onto the continental arena.
If Liverpool want an out of the box option for a back up forward then Edouard should be foremost among their thoughts.