Salvador Carmona is pacing the floor. Every so often the conversation is punctuated by the sound of a table tennis ball being dispatched across a table in his deserted office in Madrid. He handles questions with a similar dexterity, employing the speed and authority of a man who is used to having answers at his fingertips.

“I cannot stand still when I am speaking on the phone. I’m actually here alone because of the pandemic, I’m not playing with anybody. I’m just serving like an idiot.”

An idiot he most certainly isn’t. The energetic 30-year-old graduated in statistics from the University of Arizona in 2012 before taking on a role with the NBA in London at the age of 23. Today he is the chief executive of Driblab, a data-analytics consultancy which last season boasted a number of Premier League, Bundesliga and La Liga clubs, including Valencia and Celta Vigo, among its clients. Since the outbreak of coronavirus he has added further clubs and with normal life likely to be restricted for some time to come, his business could be invaluable for clubs looking for an edge over their rivals. He cites Celtic as one who already employ best practice but believes others in Scotland would benefit from his service.

“Full disclosure, we had a meeting with Celtic about a year and a half ago,” says Carmona. “Since then they went with a different platform as I understand, even though we are are not a platform per se. What has impressed me with Celtic in the last few years is they have spent more money than they have in prior years – on players like Edouard and a few others. Some of their signings have been very good. The club has been prolific in producing players and also selling to the better Premier League clubs and they always remain competitive.

“We work as a consultancy, we are not a software, even though we have our own internal software. We do create bespoke models for the clubs; no two clubs are the same, clubs have different approaches, different models about fitting different needs. Our fee is not excessive; it could be afforded by most Scottish Premiership teams.”

Carmona specialises in finding specific players to a set of characteristics that clubs require for their respective systems. Given the uncertainty surrounding the futures of both Edouard and Alfredo Morelos at Old Firm rivals Rangers, it is worth asking him for a sample of players that might serve as replacements.

He limits his search to the markets that both clubs might be expected to look in based on budget, availability and competition from elsewhere. It comes as something of a surprise when the closest match in type to Edouard is a name from Rangers’ recent past.

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“Using Driblab’s similarity tool in other leagues, if we take away the top five leagues – because it would be very hard to find someone like him in Spain, France, Italy et cetera – if you look at minor leagues in continental Europe such as Serbia, Austria and Belgium, you do find very good players. For example, there is one guy at Partizan Belgrade, who according to our model, is 90.2-per-cent similar in his production, he’s 23-years-old and his name is Umar Sadiq.

“He’s very similar performance [to Edouard] in Serbia [but] if he played for Rangers it’s very unlikely that Celtic would buy him.”

Certainly, if you watch YouTube footage of Sadiq at Partizan, he looks a player transformed and the similarities with Edouard are there, but memories of the Nigerian’s performance in the Betfred Cup semi-final against Aberdeen in 2018 and his repeated clashes with Gerrard might prove hard to shift for Neil Lennon and Nick Hammond.

“If you go to the next option, you find a player in Austria called Shon Weismann who plays at Wolfsberger. He’s similar this season. You find an Argentine name in the Belgian league, Facundo Colidio, who was at Sint-Truidense [on-loan from Inter Milan] and if you go down the list you find players like David Okereke at Club Brugges; those are players who, given normal circumstances, could come to the league and score a fair amount of goals.”

With two of the above, Weismann and Okereke, linked with moves to the English Premier League, Celtic might be in danger of being priced out of a deal especially when they spent big on a striker in the winter window. However, asked whether Patryk Klimala might be the answer, Carmona is doubtful.

The £4m January signing from Polish side Jagiellonia Bialystock struggled for minutes following his arrival, much as Edouard did when he found himself stuck behind the more established Moussa Dembele when he joined Celtic from Paris Saint-Germain in 2017. But, according to Driblab’s results, Celtic would need to find a new way of playing to incorporate him as a direct replacement for Edouard.

“He is a different type of player. He is more of a pressing forward. He is very good at finding open space, he looks to have certain traits that need to be developed, like his creativity, and then you also find that there are traits that he doesn’t have that are very hard to develop, like dribbling power.”

It takes a few seconds to bring up a list of potential replacements for Morelos and, again, there is a familiar name: Jordan Larsson, the son of Celtic legend Henrik, now at Spartak Moscow after a stellar season at Norkopping in Sweden.

“I know who his father is so that’s probably not happening!” laughs Carmona. “If you want to sign another young player that could perform [like Morelos], Larsson would be the No.1 in terms of similarities, he is 88.9-per-cent similar based on his last season in Sweden.

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“The next one would be Hwang Hee-chan [RB Salzburg] who I am assuming would be unobtainable in terms of financial capacity because, as you know, Salzburg have developed players that work out in later years.”

It is the speed of the searches that impresses most, something Carmona is keen to emphasise.

“It can save clubs a lot of time and money when it comes to scouting and it can turn the club from being reactive to proactive in terms of the data that can really help. For example, you just gave me Alfredo Morelos and I came back with a list in a second. I just looked in our internal software and came up with a list; therefore that could be given to scouts who could watch them on video, try to watch them live, instead of watching games just trying to find a player at random.”