Charlie Nicholas: "At £40m, Odsonne Edouard would only become fair value for Arsenal if Alexandre Lacazette or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were to leave"
Tuesday 7 April 2020 15:39, UK
Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard would take time to adjust to the Premier League and ought not to be viewed as a replacement for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were he to join Arsenal, according to Charlie Nicholas.
Football across Scotland is currently on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak but at the time of the postponement, the Celtic striker had scored 28 goals across all competitions, taking his tally to 62 goals in his three years at the club.
Edouard is the outstanding candidate for the Scottish Premiership player of the year, and the break from action has led to renewed speculation linking the 22-year-old with a move to the Premier League, with the Daily Mirror reporting that he is on Arsenal's radar.
Aubameyang will enter the final year of his contract in June with Manchester United and Barcelona believed to be keen on the 30-year-old, but Edouard is not a like-for-like replacement for the Gabon international, as Sky Sports pundit Nicholas explains in this week's column...
Edouard is a very good technical player. There's been comparisons with Lyon striker Moussa Dembele. He's now been linked with Chelsea for £40m-50m and I look back at the balance of what Edouard has compared to Dembele.
Dembele is a more aggressive character and is better in the air, whereas Edouard is a more laid-back individual. He's good with both feet and he's 6ft 1in so aerially he could be a threat. But he doesn't really play that way.
He will score a few headers because his physicality is good, but he's more about link-up play, getting the ball into his feet, turning defenders. He will run in behind on the shoulder of defenders.
Of course, he could make it in the Premier League, but he would need to be playing in a team structure that has a lot of the ball. At Celtic, they have it 75-80 per cent of the time. That's why he's become such a marketed product.
He's had his best goalscoring season and he's scored quite a few in Europe so you are not just judging him on his tally in Scottish football. In the last six months, we have seen that defenders have tried to get physical by kicking him, we have seen him start to react in a good way.
Before, he might go missing for 20 or 25 minutes, but now when that happens, he gets agitated and tries even harder. As a result, he's become Celtic's key player and best by a distance. He will leave Celtic.
Some people are suggesting he'll stay on next season as Celtic go in search of 10 titles in a row. People up north get so bogged down by it, but Edouard is now reaching a side of his career at 22 where, like Dembele, he will be looking at who are interested in signing him.
He's in a position where he can take his time with this. Recently, there has been links with Borussia Dortmund and they have come back saying he's not ready for them at this point because they have got Erling Haaland, but he's also been marked down as a potential Arsenal player.
He could certainly play at Arsenal because the way they play, his style would be more than suitable for it. The problem is getting the judgement right over whether he's ready right now, playing every week for Arsenal compared to who is there already. I'm a big fan of Alexandre Lacazette, and Edouard has got quite a bit of Lacazette in style within his game.
He certainly would not come to England straightaway and score 20 to 25 goals in a season unless Arsenal find a renewed belief and they get the whole team right. It's got potential, absolutely, but I'm not convinced that they will go and buy him. The reason is that in Scotland, Celtic are gauging him as a £40m player.
This will come down to what Edouard wants. If he wants to leave, then he will leave. Celtic will take the cash rather than have a player who is not committed to the cause because historically that's what they have done - with Dembele, Virgil van Dijk and Kieran Tierney.
He has to go to a side that plays him. He can play with a partner and he can play on his own, but he must play in a team that's going to give him a lot of service. If he plays in a side that sometimes gets 40 per cent of possession, he will find it really tough to adapt.
His attitude has improved sufficiently enough to tell me he will become a top player but I am not quite convinced teams will yet be looking at him as a £40m player. But the current market, with the coronavirus likely to impact the value of players, this will play a crucial part.
Although the big clubs have big money, it's been pulled in. Football is going to take a short-term kicking, financially, and a lot of clubs are going to be re-assessing their transfer budgets. Clubs may have to accept what they have in many cases, and only spend sparingly. The timing could put any move into jeopardy.
There's been a lot of talk of Aubameyang being sold, but Edouard would not be the answer. He plays differently, more like Lacazette. Aubameyang is about pace and movement. Although he likes to play the No 9 role, he does not play it as well as Edouard could. Similarly, Edouard could not play in the position that Aubameyang does, out wide on the left.
He wants to be the key figurehead of the team as the link man through the middle. For that reason, I do not see Arsenal targeting him as a replacement for Aubameyang. Arsenal are in a horrible position when it comes to sorting out Aubameyang's contract offer. Barcelona and Real Madrid have been mentioned and they have the funds to buy him.
Edouard is too similar to Lacazette, and if he was to move, it paints a different picture. Edouard would then fit into the Arsenal team as the No 9. You would still need to give him time as he's not been playing every week against Premier League quality.
If Arsenal are genuinely interested in Edouard, it would be a crazy scenario if Mikel Arteta and his staff were not questioning Tierney about the player's qualities. When Tierney's fit, he's very much an attacking full-back. He could see Edouard's movement, and he could drill balls into his feet.
He got quite a lot of assists for Edouard during his time at Celtic, knows the quality of the player and he's improved this season.
Would he be brought in based on the link-up working before? No, that would not be the case because we have yet to really see Tierney for any significant period of time due to injuries. But they would certainly be asking him about his character and what gets him motivated.
The crux of the matter is whether he would be fair value at £40m for Arsenal. The only way for me he would is if Lacazette or Aubameyang were to leave.
I just do not think Arsenal can afford to let Aubameyang's contract run out, so they will have to renew it. Despite that, I do not see the Edouard to Arsenal link materialising, but I could certainly see him moving to the Premier League.
He could be more suitable to Everton if they build their team in the right way. I have watched them quite a bit this season.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin has had a purple patch but Edouard is a better technical player. He's got more about him than Calvert-Lewin and there's no doubt in my mind he would be a very good buy for someone.