It just gets worse at Marseille for Celtic misfit Olivier Ntcham

By Euan Davidson

April 24, 2021

The Marseille/Olivier Ntcham experiment continues to go wrong.

The Celtic midfielder, who compared a loan spell at Olympique Marseille to being called by Real Madrid or Barcelona, was snubbed once again last night.

In Marseille’s win over Stade Reims, Ntcham started from the bench. He also finished the match from the bench. It’s been a running theme for the Frenchman, having played just one competitive minute of football in April [Transfermarkt].

How did we get here? Well, Ntcham hardly burst onto the scene in the south of France. The AVB debacle will have knocked his confidence, no doubt. Causing a seismic rift in the club you’ve joined on loan by sheer accident is never going to win you much favour, wherever you go.

So obviously a talented player, there just doesn’t seem to be any room for him at Marseille. It’s a baffling situation, because he was clearly brought to the club with intent of bolstering L’OM’s midfield options. You have to imagine there was a plan to use him, but he’s not managed 90 minutes once. The best he’s done, in terms of minutes, is one half of a match.

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That’s terrible value for both Marseille and Celtic, and surely this has to come to an end soon.

Ntcham on the ball for Marseille back in March / (Photo by John Berry/Getty Images)

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Barring an incredible turnaround in Ntcham’s fortunes in a short space of time, this loan will have been an utter disaster. So where do he and Celtic go from here?

We know exactly how good Ntcham can be. A player who improves on the biggest stages, there’s still a world where the Frenchman is an asset to us in Europe and in significant league matches. Unfortunately, he can go missing when his motivation isn’t quite right, and that’s an issue.

But it’s a solvable one. Under the right manager, you’d expect that a player as technically gifted as Olivier Ntcham could thrive. Perhaps you need to build a midfield around his individual talents, and that’s a hard sell for any boss, but you might get some excellent productivity out of him.

When he’s fit and focused, he can be a creative focal point. His impressive 17-18 and 19-20 seasons prove that he’s capable of dictating games, and finding holes in a defence that nobody else can in that moment. He’s also not afraid of taking on shots at significant junctures for the club.

So, do Celtic recall him and save his blushes? It’s hard to say he’s earned that right this season with his lacklustre displays, but the club have a duty of care for their midfielder.

It might be time to end Ntcham’s Marseille disaster early.

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