Reported Arsenal target Odsonne Edouard was distracted by transfer speculation during the transfer window, Neil Lennon has admitted.
The Gunners were said to be “hugely interested” in the Celtic striker in the summer, the Daily Record deeming him an apparent “top target” for Mikel Arteta.
However, amid reports of a £40million price tag (Daily Mail), Edouard stayed put in Glasgow despite purported interest from a number of Premier League clubs besides Arsenal.
The 22-year-old has claimed an impressive 67 goals and 33 assists in 140 club appearances, including 27 goals and 19 assists last term, helping his side to a ninth consecutive title.
Even though Edouard hasn’t been quite at his best this season, he’s still claimed seven goals and two assists from his 14 competitive games this term.
In addition, the last international break proved fruitful for the young striker, who became France Under-21s’ all-time record goalscorer with a brace in a 3-1 win over Switzerland U21s.
Speaking prior to Celtic’s Scottish Premiership meeting with Hibernian, Lennon told The Scotsman: “Listen, he’s a human being and he’s still young at 22.
“There has been a lot of interest or speculation – whatever you want to call it – about him and there’s no question that it affected him and his performances.
“When he comes back we’ll sit down, have a good discussion with him and, hopefully, he’ll kick on and get back to his best.
“What we have with Odsonne is an outstanding, talented player and it’s up to us now to try and get the best out of him again.
“There are huge games coming up, ones in which he can inspire the team. We know what he’s capable of and we understand why his recent form hasn’t been as good.”
Celtic’s record signing has been superb since his £9million move to Parkhead, and surely it’s now only a matter of time before he ups sticks and heads to one of Europe’s elite clubs.
He’s not the only player at Parkhead who’s struggling right now, it has to be said – the Hoops have been well off form this season and are now eight points behind Rangers in the Premiership table.
Given his age, his talent and the potential to develop further, he’d be a great shout to bolster the Arsenal attack next year, should the Gunners retain an interest in his signature.