Celtic Opinion: It would be a real shame for the Hoops to sell Olivier Ntcham for a bargain fee in the summer
Football Scotland understands that Celtic had previously turned down a £14 million offer from Porto for the 23-year-old central midfielder back in the January transfer window, with former manager Brendan Rodgers reluctant to lose the talented youngster.
However, the Portuguese giants are set to go back in the market for Ntcham in the summer, albeit for a significantly less sum of money, following the 23-year-old’s struggles with injuries this season. (h/t Football Scotland)
A youth product of French club Le Havre, Ntcham refused to sign a professional contract with his boyhood club and moved to Man City in 2012 before signing a deal with the Citizens in 2015. Ntcham was loaned out to Serie A outfit Genoa on a two-season loan deal where he showed rapid development, prompting Celtic to snap him up for a fee of £4.5 million back in the summer of 2017.
Ntcham was an instant hit in Scottish football and went on to play a pivotal role in Celtic’s treble-winning campaign under Rodgers in his very first season at the club. The 23-year-old was an ever-present for the Hoops last season and accumulated 9 goals and 6 assists from 48 appearances in all competitions. The former French youth international also impressed in the group stages of the Champions League and the Europa League, which prompted Porto to pursue a keen interest in him.
However, things haven’t been the same for the young Frenchman in his second season at Parkhead. He has featured 35 times for the Hoops in all competitions this season but his returns haven’t been as good as they were the last term, with Ntcham managing just 6 goals and a single assist.
It would be harsh to blame the 23-year-old for his lack of significant contribution this season, given that he has missed large chunks of the current campaign due to injuries.
A thigh injury towards the end of last year was followed by a knee injury towards the end of January and he has missed about 15-20 games for the Hoops. Also, his fitness levels haven’t been great and he hasn’t been entrusted with a starting role in too many games this term.
However, Celtic should remember that Olivier Ntcham continues to be a wonderful young midfielder with plenty of potential. He showed how good he can be last season and, had it not been for those recurrent injuries this term, he would probably have contributed a lot more. Celtic have good depth in their midfield options but losing a versatile player like Ntcham could deplete their resources greatly.
The 23-year-old has played almost every role in the midfield for the Hoops. Essentially a central midfielder by trade, Ntcham has the versatility to play in an attacking role behind the striker and also on either side of the pitch as a wide player.
Noted for his high work-rate, composure in possession, well-rounded passing attributes, intelligence and vision, the Frenchman has plenty of time to make significant improvements to his game in the days to come and Celtic would be foolish to let him go.
The Hoops have the likes of Tom Rogic, Callum McGregor and Ryan Christie, both of whom are quite creative and can play in multiple positions in the middle of the park, but Ntcham is also an immensely talented player who ensures healthy competition for places.
Having rejected the chance to offload him for £14 million back in January, it would be a real shame if the Hoops decide to let him go for a bargain fee in the summer. Celtic could have made a huge profit by selling Ntcham in January but they opted against it and there is no reason why they should alter their stance now.
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Olivier Ntcham still has plenty to offer at Celtic and he could probably be back to his best next season. That said, the Hoops should hold on to him at all costs.