THE standard of the Scottish top flight has frequently deterred the leading clubs in the better European leagues from bidding for Celtic’s best young players over the years.

They have often been unwilling to pay top dollar for a footballer who is unproven at a higher level despite his success in this country and mid or lower table outfits have benefitted from their wariness.

Yet, John Kennedy firmly believes those days are in the past due to the success the likes of Stuart Armstrong, Moussa Dembele, Kieran Tierney, Virgil van Dijk and Victor Wanyama have all enjoyed down south and further afield after departing in recent seasons. 

Glasgow Times:

It didn’t surprise the Parkhead interim manager in the slightest when he saw that Leicester City, who are currently in third place in the Premier League, were preparing to make a £15m offer for Odsonne Edouard in the summer.

Kennedy suspects that title contenders in England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain will all be monitoring the progress of a striker who he has worked with for the past three-and-a-half seasons and knows has the same ability and potential as Dembele and Van Dijk.     

And he is confident that level of interest will, despite the devastating financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic on football across the world, be reflected in the size of the fee they receive for the 23-year-old.

Glasgow Times:

“You know what you are getting when you bring in a talented player who has spent a bit of time here,” he said. “People know they can take that chance.

“Plus, what is happening in football more and more, and you see it more with the European clubs especially, is they are moving quicker.

“Look at the number of young players the Borussia Dortmunds and the Bayern Munichs have snapped up in the last couple of seasons. That wasn’t happening five years ago.

READ MORE: Andy Walker is wrong - it will take a Scottish record £30m bid to land Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard

“What was happening was other clubs who maybe weren’t as big as them were snapping up these guys, developing them and then all of a sudden the big clubs in Europe were paying £30m and £60m for them.

“If they had made a quicker decision and been braver they could have got him for a lesser fee. The big clubs are taking more chances on young players, bringing them in quicker. But ultimately it needs to be at the right level for us.”

Glasgow Times:

Kennedy continued: “The financial aspect of this club is strong and there are some very clever people here who know how the business side of football works inside out. We’ve put ourselves in a position where we can demand transfer fees.

“Obviously, that’s down to what we’ve done in terms of either bringing players to the club or bringing them through and, as you’ll have noticed, transfer fees have increased (Celtic received £20m for Dembele in 2018 and £25m for Tierney in 2019).

“The more you’re able to develop good players and then watch them succeed elsewhere, the more you can ask for because other clubs realise that they’ll be getting a good product when they buy from us.

READ MORE: Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer warned to improve his consistency if he wants big money move

“Look at Virgil Van Dijk. When we sold him to Southampton for £13million it was a big fee. But what could he go for now? There have been others we’ve sold since then who have also done well.

“People know what they’re getting when they buy from us and that’s good when others decide they want to take a chance on one of our guys.

“That’s why we get good money for them and why clubs come straight to us now rather than waiting to see how a player might do once we’ve sold him to Southampton or whoever. They’re coming to the party much earlier and we’re now at the level where we don’t have to sell cheaply.”

Glasgow Times:

Kennedy, who took over from Neil Lennon as Celtic manager on a temporary basis last month, has played or coached some outstanding talents during the two decades he has spent at Parkhead and rates Edouard as highly as any of them.

The former centre half knows the free-scoring forward, who was named Premiership Player of the Month yesterday after netting seven times in as many games in February, has to improve areas of his game. However, he fully expects the French forward to do so.

 “He’s a top player in terms of his intelligence and the ability he has,” he said. “He has a really good footballing brain. The one thing he needs is a killer instinct and we’ve spoken with him about this.

“Top strikers are all killers – they get goals by putting themselves in there all the time to do that. He’s still a young player so he’s still developing that side of his game. But in terms of the tools and attributes he possesses, he already has what the top players have.

“Over time and with experience, he can develop. But that will come for Odsonne with maturity. He has to continue using what he has and maximising it. When he turns it on it’s obvious for everyone what he can do, but doing it consistently takes you up to another level.”

Glasgow Times:

Kennedy continued: “That is what he has got to strive for. You have got to maximise what you have got as a player. He has to make sure that come performance time he turns it on and maximises what he has got. If he does that he will be exceptional.

“That is what will take him to the top because I think he has got everything he needs to do that, I genuinely do. I am not just saying that because I am working with him. He knows he has got talent, he knows he has got ability.

“He is very quiet and can be a bit laid back at times. But I see how he works and I have seen Virgil working and I have seen Moussa working and all the top guys. He has got as much quality and talent as them, easily.”