It’s peak transfer rumour season, and if you’re an Arsenal fan you’ve probably seen the club linked with a whole number of players after freeing up some wages through the departures of Mesut Ozil, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Sead Kolasinac.
The Gunners are thought to have an interest in Real Madrid’s Martin Odegaard among others, but the club are also one of many sides who have been linked with a move for prolific Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard.
Many consider signing a creative midfielder to be Arsenal’s main priority, but the Frenchman has been touted as a possible replacement for Alexandre Lacazette, in turn allowing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to continue wide left as Mikel Arteta seems to favour.
The question is, would Edouard be an upgrade on what Arsenal already have?
From a pure statistical standpoint, yes. The 23-year-old signed for the Hoops from Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2018 and since his arrival at Parkhead, has netted 72 goals for the club in just 151 appearances – proof of the impact he has had in Glasgow.
Lacazette, meanwhile, is currently Arteta’s first-choice centre-forward at the Emirates Stadium, but he’s netted 15 goals less than Edouard in two fewer Arsenal appearances. It’s worth noting he has been selected as a starter in less than 65% (stats via Transfermarkt) of Arsenal’s Premier League fixtures this season, which in itself would suggest that the boss hasn’t always trusted him to lead the line effectively.
His form, much like Arsenal’s, has also been very up and down. In the opening three games of the season, the 29-year-old netted three goals but failed to find the back of the net between October 4 and Boxing Day.
Since then, you could argue he’s been one of the team’s standout performers, scoring four in his last five league games. But for a striker who cost the club a fee in the region of £47m, you can understand why the goal droughts, which have been a feature of his Arsenal career so far, have raised questions regarding his level.
Drilling deeper into the numbers and Edouard averages a goal every 2.1 games, whereas Lacazette’s goals to game ratio is weaker at 2.6. It’s important to factor in, however, the difference in standard between the English Premier League and the Scottish Premiership. As impressive as the Celtic man’s statistics appear, there is no guarantee he’d be able to replicate that form in England’s top-flight.
There’s also the role that Lacazette plays to consider. His ability to hold the ball up and combine with those around him, most notably Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe, has been one of the main reasons the Gunners have been able to turnaround their league form of late – taking 13 points from the last 15 available.
Rather than playing as a striker on the shoulder, he often has his back to goal – something that is bound to have a detrimental effect on his ability to regular score.
That’s not to say that Edouard is only an out and out goalscorer. He’s registered 35 assists for Celtic to date, a clear indicator that he’s willing and able to create opportunities for others, but the question is, could he bring more goalscoring prowess to Arteta’s side while being as effective in Arsenal’s build-up play?
Sadly, there’s no straight answer for that. Edouard does have talent and it’s hard to argue against the figures he’s put up, as well as the fact that he’s six years Lacazette’s junior. The former Lyon striker is also out of contract next summer, perhaps offering Arsenal time to reflect and decide whether or not they want to move onto a new chapter.
But if Arsenal do pursue Edouard, they will be gambling on a player who has potential to exceed Lacazette’s level and actually has little experience at the highest level. Potential means nothing unless it is fulfilled, so perhaps Celtic’s asking price will determine whether or not the club are willing to take a risk.