No longer invincible, and in need of a goalscorer, Celtic must turn to the other Frenchman. Celtic achieved their seventh Scottish Premiership title in a row last season, they also completed the domestic treble by beating Motherwell twice in the Scottish Cup and Scottish League Cup retrospectively.
Although it is quite safe to say that Celtic’s domestic crown does not look under threat in the immediate future, there are some problem areas for the Hoops to address.
Defensively, Celtic are very sound, Scotland international Craig Gordon still looks very solid between the sticks and will most likely continue to wear the number one shirt for Celtic, despite a good run of games from backup Scott Bain prior to Gordon’s return in May.
Mikael Lustig, who has enjoyed great success with Sweden in the 2018 FIFA World Cup still looks to be a permanent fixture under manager Brendan Rodgers in the right-back position for ‘the Bhoys’.
Meanwhile, on the left flank is Parkhead favourite Kieran Tierney. The youngster really came to life last season picking up the PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year award for a third consecutive season, as well as an impressive seven assists. If Celtic can hold off the likes of Tottenham, Manchester United and Everton from stealing Tierney away from Celtic Park, he will definitely remain one of the first names on the team sheet for the foreseeable.
Kristoffer Ajer and Dredryck Boyata looked a very solid central defensive partnership for ‘the Hoops’, Brendan Rodgers is also very keen to keep Jozo Simunovic too, which would further bolster a defence which conceded the fewest goals in the Scottish Premiership last season, just 25 goals let in by the champions. January signing Marvin Compper is also expected to be fully fit for next season, despite being plagued with calf problems since coming to Glasgow in the winter.
Celtic’s concerns are their attacking options going in to the new season. In the 2016/17 season Celtic scored a staggering 106 goals in a title-winning season which saw Scott Sinclair score an outstanding 21 goals in his debut season at the club.
Although, it was not enough to claim the golden boot, that feat went to Ross County’s Liam Boyce with 23 goals. The Northern Irishman now playing his football in League One with Burton Albion.
It was also an equally impressive debut season from Moussa Dembele, scoring 17 goals as well as 15 goals coming from attacking midfielder Stuart Armstrong, who has since moved to the south coast. Southampton paying around £7 million to Celtic for his services.
‘Auld Reekie’ native Leigh Griffiths was also able to bag eleven goals for the Hoops that meant four of Celtic’s players alone accounted for 64 goals – over half of the goals scored by the Glaswegians in total for the season.
Compare that with last season (2017/18), Celtic were only able to score 73 goals in total for the season. The top four goals scorers were only able to get 37 goals between them (Sinclair; Ten and Edouard, Griffiths and Dembele; nine each).
With the departure of Charly Musonda, after a brief and relatively unsuccessful spell in Parkhead and the continued lack of ability for Jonny Hayes to remain match fit, Scott Sinclair will likely be kept in the left midfield position.
That may limit his ability to score as many goals as he did two seasons ago, but he will be expected to create more than he did last season (six). On the right-hand side James Forrest will, with little doubt, remain the first choice for the position, doing what his does best by getting into excellent positions using his pace and crossing the ball into the forward.
Moussa Dembele enjoyed a relatively successful season in 2017/18 but his form and indeed his confidence seemed to be majorly affected by transfer rumours in the summer and then again in January with all talks breaking down and the Frenchman staying put in Glasgow.
The French-U21 international was only able to score half the number of goals he scored in the previous season. Dembele has demonstrated a lack of loyalty to Rodgers and the fans in his attempts to move away from Parkhead.
Therefore, Brendan Rodgers must now have faith in fellow Frenchman Odsonne Edouard next season. The striker joined Celtic for over €10 million this summer which broke their transfer record for the first time since 2000, when legendary striker Chris Sutton joined for the equivalent of £6 million. Edouard sprung into form in December scoring a hat-trick against Motherwell, followed by a further five goals after Christmas.
The confidence and ability shown by the French Guiana born striker has earned him a permanent move from French giants Paris Saint-Germain. Edouard shows an excellent desire to get in to the right areas to score goals, and his youthfulness must be utilised if Celtic are to achieve eight successive Scottish Premiership titles.
With Rangers looking set to return as Celtic’s biggest title rival next season after the appointment of Steven Gerrard as manager and the recruitment of some solid notable players such as Scott Arfield, Rodgers needs to make Edouard his go-to man up top and allow the Frenchman to thrive as he did when given the chance last season.
Celtic will get under way in the Scottish Premiership on August 4th at Celtic Park against a newly promoted Livingston side who have appointed Kenny Miller as player-manager for the upcoming season.