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.
Man United would find De Gea’s ideal replacement by signing this Champions League semi-finalist – Agreed?
Manchester United Opinion: United must target Onana if De Gea leaves
According to a recent report by The Sun, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United side are said to have set their eyes on Ajax’s Cameroonian international goalkeeper Andre Onana as a possible replacement for David De Gea, later this summer.
The Spanish veteran has rejected multiple contract offers from United over the last couple of seasons and he now finds himself with just a year remaining on his current deal. Although Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak is being linked with a possible move too, his startling market value will prove too much for United to handle at this stage.
The report suggests that Manchester United are willing to see out David De Gea’s contract and let him leave for free rather than sell him in the summer.
Despite their best interests, if the Spaniard does force a move away from Old Trafford, there probably isn’t much they could do to stop him.
He was heavily criticised for his performances in the last campaign as he made multiple individual errors and blatant mistakes.
Andre Onana is a 23-year-old shot-stopper, who currently plies his trade for last season’s Champions League semi-finalist – Ajax Amsterdam. The youngster was an absolutely pivotal part of their build-up play and his ability to release the ball early helped them in multiple situations as well.
The season that Ajax had last year could only be described as majestic and without Onana’s exploits between the sticks, they wouldn’t have achieved half of what they did. It is being reported that the youngster could be available for a fairly nominal price and considering that he’s only 23, he could fit the bill at United in terms of age as well.
Although Sergio Romero will definitely throw his name into the hat at some
stage, signing Onana would be a massive boost to a team that has depended on their goalkeeper’s heroics to keep them in games at times.
De Gea has been a fan favourite at Old Trafford for a long time now but the time for change could finally be here.
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The Spaniard is 28 now and has shown signs of slowing down over the last season. His performances at the World Cup in Russia were poor and he certainly didn’t help himself with his recent Premier League showings.
Despite this, De Gea has singlehandedly won Manchester United an unbelievable number of football matches. Moving for Onana to replace him would certainly be a shrewd piece of business.
Man City shelling out £5m to activate this former player’s buyout clause would provide excellent competition for Mendy – Agreed?
Man City Opinion: Citizens should activate Angelino’s buy-back clause to ensure quality competition for Mendy
According to Manchester Evening News, reigning Premier League champions Man City are set to bring left-back Angelino back to the Etihad this summer, with reports claiming that the Citizens are considering activating the buy-back clause that they had inserted in the Spaniard’s deal.
Angelino sealed a permanent £5 million move to Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven only last summer but Manchester Evening News suggests that the Citizens, who are well aware of his talent and potential, had inserted a clause in his deal which would enable them to bring him back for a fee of around £5 million.
The same source claims that Man City are impressed by the 22-year-old’s rapid development in the Netherlands at PSV Eindhoven and are willing to offer him a chance in their first-team next season, while French champions PSG have also been linked with the highly-rated left-back.
Angelino accumulated as many as 12 assists in 43 appearances for the Dutch heavyweights in all competitions this past season, also featuring prominently in the club’s Champions League campaign, which ended prematurely in the group stages.
The 22-year-old’s scintillating run for form hasn’t gone unnoticed and, as the reports suggest, he might as well be forced to head back to England just after a single season at PSV.
The Spanish U21 international played for Deportivo La Coruna at the youth ranks before joining City’s youth set up in 2012. Angelino featured largely for the club’s youth and reserve sides and spent time on loan at New York City, Girona, Mallorca and NAC Breda.
The talented youngster was eventually handed his first-team debut against Aston Villa in the FA Cup in 2016 and went on to make a total of 3 competitive appearances for the Citizens, featuring in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League and also in the EFL Cup.
However, it was pretty apparent that he needed more time to further his development before having a realistic chance of nailing down a regular starting role at City.
Well, it looks as though the left-back has finally managed to impress upon the City hierarchy with his scintillating run of form in the Dutch top-flight this past season.
Realistically speaking, it makes a lot of sense for Man City to bring the Spaniard back to the Etihad this summer, given that lack of stability on the left-hand side of the backline was one of the big talking points from the club’s domestic treble-winning campaign last term.
Benjamin Mendy started off with a bang in the earlier stages of the recently concluded campaign, with the Frenchman accumulating as many as 5 assists in 10 Premier League outings.
However, Guardiola found himself short of cover ever since Mendy was sidelined with a long-term knee injury and the manager had to rotate between the likes of Fabian Delph and Oleksandr Zinchenko to fill in at an unfamiliar position.
While Delph struggled to find consistency and had his own share of injury problems, Guardiola’s patience with Zinchenko gradually paid rich dividends, as the Ukrainian went from strength to strength and established himself as the first-choice left-back in due course of time.
City would need to sort out their left-back conundrum sooner rather than later, given Mendy’s poor injury record. And bringing back Angelino certainly makes a lot of sense.
The 22-year-old would save Man City a fortune in the transfer market, while his arrival is also expected to add much-needed depth and cover in a key area of the pitch for the Citizens.
The Spaniard has proven his credentials as a modern-day offensive-minded full-back in the Netherlands and City have every reason to look at him as someone who could possibly provide cover and competition for Mendy, thus enabling Zinchenko to play elsewhere in a more familiar role.
Capable of shouldering both attacking and defensive responsibilities effectively, Angelino caught the eye with his immaculate crossing, sharpness, agility and a deadly eye for key passes in the final third.
The 22-year-old averaged 2 key passes, 1.7 crosses, 1.4 dribbles, 2.3 successful long balls, 2.2 tackles, 1.4 interceptions and 2 clearances per game in the Eredisivie last season, figures which are an upgrade on Mendy’s 1.2 key passes, 1.1 crosses, 1.6 tackles and 1 interception per game in the Premier League.
Those differences in numbers might have a lot to do with the stylistic differences between the two teams and the quality of the leagues but, in all honesty, Angelino proved that he is good enough to challenge the injury-prone and impetuous Mendy for a spot in City’s first-team.
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As the Citizens look to make it a hat-trick of Premier League triumphs next season, they need to ensure that they have adequate depth in all areas of their squad and bringing back the 22-year-old for a thrifty fee would certainly be a step in the right direction.
Next Roofe in the making? – Leeds United signing this League Two starlet for £250,000 would be a smart move by Bielsa
The 18-year-old is also being chased by a swarm of English clubs namely Sheffield United, Derby County and Wolves. Yet, the Whites remain confident they can win the race by offering him more gaming time.
The 18-year-old broke into Carlisle’s main team in the recently concluded season, making a total of 16 appearances. Despite being used as a substitute, McCarron showed much quality with limited opportunities. A youth product of Cumbrians, the English prodigy has a contract until the end of next season.
Should Leeds United move for McCarron?
After an eventful campaign in Championship, Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa needs reinforcements in every aspect.
The attacking line-up turned out to be a let-down for the Argentine manager in the promotion slump and he must mend that before the start of next season.
And with Jack Clarke’s future still hanging in balance as he is wanted by Tottenham, Bielsa can avail the services of League Two teenager, McCarron. United’s primary striker, Kemar Roofe, is also on the radar of Burnley.
A centre-forward by trade, McCarron is also much efficient at the wings. Though he can’t be an assured starter under Bielsa, he can win his chances by showing quick progress in the reserves set-up as Clarke did with the Whites last season.
The former Chile manager is also known for nurturing young talents – Clarke and Leif Davis are some of the best examples. McCarron could soon join the list and can break into the spotlight if he opts to move to Elland Road this summer.
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Leeds wouldn’t be overburdened with a signing like McCarron, who is currently in demand and has a great future ahead.
And the English prospect can follow the footsteps of 26-year-old Roofe, who also rose through the ranks of League Two side Oxford United.
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