Olivier Ntcham has had a strange time at Celtic.
At times, he’s been a talisman. His unforgettable goal against Lazio (BT Sport/YouTube) wrote his name in Celtic folklore. Equally, he’s performed in other big matches, including a winner against Rangers (BBC).
However, he’s gone missing for large spells in Green and White. Particularly this season, Ntcham has struggled to make any kind of impact. Signed for £4.5m (ESPN), the Frenchman probably hasn’t fulfilled his potential at Celtic Park.
In 13 league matches, he’s contributed to 2 goals (Transfermarkt), while he’s had no such impact in the Europa League. Statistically, he’s having his worst season in a Celtic shirt (WhoScored?), but anyone who’s watched the Bhoys this season could have told you that, without the numbers.
What’s gone wrong for Ntcham?
Does Lennon know how to use him?
It’s hard to know what kind of player Ntcham actually is for Celtic. He’s played as a deep-lying playmaker, a defensive midfielder and a 10 under Brendan Rodgers and Neil Lennon.
With Lennon preferring a central midfield three of McGregor, Brown and Christie, Ntcham has been out of the picture. Generally starting games from the bench, the French midfielder has looked out of sorts since Lennon’s return to Celtic Park.
It seems clear by now that Lenny doesn’t really know what kind of player he has in Ntcham.
As a central attacking threat, he was useless against Rangers in the October defeat. Used in a similar fashion against Sparta Prague, he wasn’t able to do much either. However, these were games where nearly everyone in the Hoops had a shocker. Why no love for Ntcham?
If you ask me, it’s because he was signed from Manchester City. Boasting Serie A experience from loan spells at Genoa, it looked like Rodgers had once again utilised the English market to Celtic’s advantage.
On balance, however, he’s not lived up to the hype. Instead of being one of the first names on the team sheet, he’s become somewhat of an afterthought.
Should Celtic sell?
Ntcham’s contract runs until the summer of 2022, meaning that his value will automatically drop from the 2021 onwards. Players on the last year of their deals tend to generate less income for their clubs, with both parties knowing they could walk away on a Bosman.
As recently as September, Southampton (who else?) were linked with an eye-watering £12m bid for Ntcham, with Porto, Lyon and West Ham monitoring his situation (Hampshire Live).
If we’re being offered that much for a struggling midfielder, Celtic should be printing out documents and giving out bank details right now.
Any kind of profit from selling Ntcham would provide much-needed funds to cover more sparse areas of the team, specifically at centre-back and in goals.
David Turnbull and Ismaila Soro are desperate for action, and on the other hand, Ntcham has probably cast glances elsewhere, given his inconsistent playing time under Neil Lennon.
It’s sad to say after his Lazio heroics, but if the right bid comes in, Celtic should sell.