WHEN Sylvain Ripoll selected Odsonne Edouard for his French under-21 side last year, he wasn’t altogether convinced from afar that the Celtic striker had the quality to succeed at that level. Now, after seeing him at close quarters, he is convinced that he can go on and represent France’s senior side.

The head coach of France’s under-21 side waxed lyrical about Edouard to Herald Sport, and little wonder given his impact for his team. Since his debut last September, the frontman has bagged 11 goals in just six games.

Ripoll gives Celtic huge credit for reigniting the young prospect’s career. The bad news for Celtic supporters though is that he also believes he may have to move on to a bigger league to realise his full potential and reach his goal of representing his country at the top level.

“As for all French hopefuls playing at this level in an important club, it is obviously a big objective for him,” Ripoll said. “He has to keep working to still improve because he has all the capacities to do better and better.

“Celtic is an historic and very important club, but it is true that a big European championship can help to take him to the next level. When? This is another question.

“He must not set limits. He only needs to be focused on his work and on the improvements he can make, because he certainly has big potential.

“As I said before, it may be a step to cross in his career [to go to a bigger league], but Celtic offers him a lot of positive things and allows him to compete on the European stage.

“The French national team is dream for all of our young players and I wish them all to reach it.”

Ripoll admits to being surprised by the tune that Celtic have managed to get out of Edouard, and the level they have developed him to as a player since an underwhelming loan spell at Toulouse from parent club Paris Saint Germain early in his career.

Now, he sees specific areas of Edouard’s game that have improved massively during his time in Glasgow, and also pinpointed areas where he can still find some improvement.

“Celtic put him in the best conditions by trusting him and giving him responsibilities,” he said.

“The first year behind Moussa Dembélé helped him to get his bearings and to adapt to his new environment. Then he became integral and unquestionable in the Celtic’s attack.

“I didn’t really expect him to go on and become the player he has, even if we all knew his qualities. But I have to admit that I did not expect him to be reaching this level so quickly because his loan in Toulouse FC wasn’t really a success.

“I selected him for our team because he had a very good season. He was very often efficient and decisive in front of the goal and in the game. His potential and his features are very useful for our team.

“I see three specific qualities; his skill in front of the goal, his capacity to direct him towards the goal and his speed to realise a technical movement. He still needs to improve his movement on the pitch and his ability to keep the ball when he has his back to goal.

“Odsonne has been immediately competitive and effective within our team. He was a little quieter during the last gathering, but his first matches with us gave me a great satisfaction.”

The mention of Moussa Dembele is no great surprise, with the comparison between the players one that is likely to follow Edouard given their similar backgrounds in the game, even if they vary greatly in style.

Ripoll recognises that the former main man in the Celtic attack is a different beast from the current one, but he sees no reason why Edouard couldn’t succeed in one of Europe’s major leagues as his predecessor has.

“They are both fantastic scorers, they have some things in common like being very skilful in front of the goal and have fast movement,” he said.

“But they have different features. Moussa Dembélé is very powerful when he makes a run or when he has the ball, he also is excellent in the air.

“Odsonne is very skilful in small spaces and has fantastic dribbling ability.”