Celtic left wondering 'what if' as reported summer target Amine Gouiri impresses in Europa League

By Euan Davidson

November 28, 2020

Nice striker Amine Gouiri netted his fourth European goal in as many starts on Thursday night.

What’s that got to do with Celtic, you might ask?

More than is comfortable for the Bhoys, it turns out. According to Les Progres, 20-year-old Gouiri, formerly of Olympique Lyonnais, was a summer transfer target for Neil Lennon. Unfortunately, a disagreement over a potential £6m fee scuppered any deal.

Nice, owned by British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, had no such qualms and the French side are reaping the rewards.

To add insult to injury, Gouiri has now equalled a record set by France talisman and PSG star Kylian Mbappé, scoring in each of his first four European starts.

Ah. Well, then.

The Côte D’Azur-based outfit, coached by Arsenal and France legend Patrick Vieira, have had an indifferent start to the 20-21 campaign, sitting 9th in Ligue 1 at the time of writing.

However, with Kasper Dolberg and Rony Lopes as attacking options alongside Gouiri, many expect them to climb up the table before too long.

With Odsonne Edouard and Moussa Dembelé becoming fan favourites in recent seasons, you might have expected the Celtic board to take an informed risk in signing Gouiri.

FourFourTwo even named the French striker as one of the world’s 15 best strikers under 23, back in 2018. In their analysis of the hitman, they quoted Armand Garrido, coach of Lyon U17s since 1992, who claimed that Gouiri “has a little bit of everything”.

Amine Gouiri has equalled a record set by Kylian Mbappé / (FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Missed opportunity

Gouiri was part of the same academy who produced strikers such as Karim Benzema, Anthony Martial and Alexandre Lacazette. Each of those names have gone on to stardom at elite clubs.

How close Celtic were to signing Gouiri is subjective. However, if it’s right enough that Celtic didn’t like what they saw for £6m, then that’s fairly concerning.

There’s a real possibility that if the youngster is able to fulfil his potential, Nice could demand a fee much larger than that in the future.