Why Olivier Ntcham would be a good signing for Southampton
According to claims from TEAMtalk (h/t Southern Daily Echo), Southampton are ready to firm up their interest in Celtic midfielder Olivier Ntcham, who could part ways with the Scottish giants this summer.
As per the report, Celtic’s shock exit from the qualifying rounds of the Champions League last week has raised doubts over the 24-year-old’s future at Parkhead.
Southampton are trying to take advantage of the situation and have lined up the former France U-21 international as a replacement for Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who left the club to join Tottenham earlier in the transfer window. (TEAMtalk h/t Southern Daily Echo)
Born in France to parents of Cameroonian descent, Olivier Ntcham featured for Paris FC and Le Havre FC at the youth level before joining Man City’s academy back in 2012.
The highly-rated midfielder played for City across various age-group levels before departing for Italian club Genoa on a two-year loan in the summer of 2015. Ntcham made 41 appearances for the Serie A outfit over the course of two seasons, registering 3 goals and 2 assists in the process.
Ntcham signed for Celtic in 2017 and has since made 129 appearances for the Scottish champions, scoring 23 goals and accumulating 12 assists.
Why Ntcham would be a good fit at Southampton
Southampton romped home to an impressive 11th-place finish in the 2019-20 Premier League after recovering from a slow start, thanks in large proportion to Danny Ings’ 22-goal haul.
Now, the next realistic aim for the Saints should be to challenge for a top-ten finish in the PL next season, with manager Ralph Hasenhuttl sparking a clear transformation at St.Mary’s.
To achieve those goals, the Austrian gaffer needs some strong financial backing in the transfer window and the club’s chiefs have already struck deals for defensive pair Kyle Walker-Peters and Mohammed Salisu.
The fans will be hoping to see a few more new signings coming through the door before the deadline in October, especially a replacement for Hojbjerg. The Dane had been one of the mainstays of Southampton’s midfield over the past three seasons, so his departure has certainly left a massive void.
Central midfield is one area where a lot of depth is desirable. Thus signing a replacement for Hojbjerg absolutely indispensable for the Saints. Hasenhuttl needs to ensure that he has all his bases covered heading into the congested fixture list of the upcoming season.
To put things into perspective, Southampton should move for Olivier Ntcham to replace the departed Hojbjerg in the middle of the park. The Frenchman boasts an impressive track record of goals and assists in Scotland that indicates he has the talent to play in a more competitive league like the Premier League.
Ntcham has been used both as a deep-lying box-to-box midfielder and in a No.10 role behind the striker over the course of his time at Celtic. Hence, he not only has the versatility to slot into Hojbjerg’s shoes, but the 24-year-old also looks more than capable of improving the quality of the Saints’ creative lines.
Southampton need a quality goalscoring midfielder to complement the likes of Stuart Armstrong and James Ward-Prowse, and Ntcham’s top-flight experience in Italy and Scotland makes him an ideal candidate for that role.
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Southampton’s raid on Celtic for Stuart Armstrong back in 2018 has paid off handsomely and a potential deal for Olivier Ntcham could be a real coup as well for the Saints. The Frenchman still has his best years ahead of him at 24, meaning that he could well be an excellent long-term signing for the club.