Five Celtic players to watch in 2021
There are big months ahead for a host of Celtic players. Here we assess what might lie in store for five of them.
The influence of the £3.5m summer signing from Motherwell has been so profound since he ended a four-month wait for a concerted opportunity the 21-year-old can now be considered Celtic’s attacking fulcrum. It will be fascinating to see if a class act who appears as adept at scoring goals as creating them can continue to make such a stunning impact across 2021. It was no mere coincidence that the inclusion of the playmaker in early December - following a month lost to a positive Covid-19 test - marked the point Neil Lennon’s men emerged from a desperate form slump, as he immediately bagged three goals and three assists.
Will the real Odsonne Edouard stand up in 2021? Will he be doing that standing away from Celtic Park come next month? Questions and uncertainties have swirled around the Frenchman like confetti. It was generally believed that if Celtic hung on to him last summer, it would guarantee the desperately-desired 10-in-a-row, following the striker ripping it up in Scottish football last season with 29 goals. The unplayable player of then, though, has been replaced by an unconvincing performer. That has been blamed on the forward’s apparent laissez faire attitude courtesy of being a reluctant conscript. He patently wanted a move to a more illustrious footballing domain in the close season. However, it perhaps does him a disservice. He only turns 23 in January, and has had Covid-19 and injury problems this campaign. Against such a backdrop, players in his age bracket do endure extended form dips.
A warrior who will go out on his shield, it is to be wondered if that moment will arrive next year for the 35-year-old. The astonishingly successful Celtic captain, who led his side to a remarkable quadruple treble this month that took his medal total to a mind-boggling 22 honours at the club, is no longer a guaranteed starter. The emergence of Ismaila Soro for the deep-lying midfield role has seen to that. He is still a more effective performer than given credit for in the rush to retire him, but age catches up with every footballer. As do contract situations, his current deal expiring in the summer.
Knee and calf problems cost the tricky, technically-gifted winner the best part of a year of his career, and made 2020 a write-off for him. Now that the 21-year-old has been restored to full fitness the aim for him must be making good on the promise of being capable of great things - a burden he has carried since he made his senior debut three-and-a-half years ago.
The Republic of Ireland captain has appeared destined to see a dream turn sour with his boyhood club. The 28-year-old’s arrival from Brighton on a season-long loan deal in August was accompanied with such fanfare. He was the no-nonsense centre-back who would stiffen Celtic’s backline. Instead, his confidence tanked after initially doing acceptably, and the towering Derry man only exacerbated problems dealing with cross balls his aerial ability was supposed to negate. His unquestionable professionalism at least ensures he will certainly strain every sinew to disprove that assessment.
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