Southampton to step up interest in Celtic midfield star – Is this a right move by Hasenhuttl?

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Why Southampton signing Olivier Ntcham would be a smart decision

According to a report from The Scottish Sun, Premier League side Southampton are set to step up their interest in Celtic midfielder Olivier Ntcham. The Saints are willing to use goalkeeper Fraser Forster as a makeweight in order to secure the signing of the 24-year-old, as per the report.

Ntcham spent his youth career at a number of clubs in France. Having started at the Chennevières-sur-Marne academy, he had spells at US Ormesson, VGA Saint-Maur, Paris FC (2009–2010) and
Le Havre before joining the Manchester City youth setup in 2012. He made 46 appearances for the Cityzens U23 outfit before joining Italian club Genoa on a two-year loan in 2015.

In his two years in Italy, Ntcham made 41 appearances, scoring 3 goals and assisting 2 more. The 24-year-old then joined Celtic in 2017 and has gone on to feature 123 times, bagging 23 goals and 11 assists in the process.

Olivier Ntcham (Getty Images)
Olivier Ntcham (Getty Images)

Southampton’s need for midfield reinforcements

As of now, the South Coast club has three central midfielders apart from Oriol Romeu, who is more of a No.6. James Ward-Prowse has excelled this campaign for the Saints, along with captain Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

The remaining choice at Hasenhuttl’s disposal is a former Celtic star, Stuart Armstrong. However, he has been used more on the flanks by the manager this season.

Furthermore, Hojbjerg has just a year left on his current contract. And as things stand, he looks set for a departure amidst serious interest from Tottenham Hotspur. Hence, adding another central midfielder to the roster would be a wise move by Southampton.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has been linked with a move to Tottenham. (Getty Images)
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has been linked with a move to Tottenham. (Getty Images)

And to that end, Ntcham is an option worth considering for the club. The 24-year-old has been a part of a dominant, trophy-winning side for three years now and has made vital contributions to the cause.

In his debut season with Celtic, he bagged 9 goals and 6 assists (48 games). Last season, his game time was hampered due to a knee injury, but he still managed to produce a return of 6 goals and an assist (37 matches). In the 2019/20 season, he came up with a tally of 8 goals and 4 assists (38 games).

His ability to consistently contribute with goals and assists from the midfield role would add a different dimension to this Southampton side. They will be adding more depth and quality to the roster, which is needed especially if Hojbjerg ends up leaving.

Olivier Ntcham (Getty Images)
Olivier Ntcham celebrates after scoring (Getty Images)

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Verdict

In his three years with Celtic, Ntcham has proven his quality and ability to perform consistently. With Southampton in need of adding more bodies to their midfield department, signing the 24-year-old would work out well for the club.

The Saints have tasted plenty of success when bringing in players from Celtic in the past. Victor Wanyama, Virgil van Dijk, Stuart Armstrong all did well after making the move. And Ntcham too can join the list provided he carries forward his form.