John Kennedy spoke to Olivier Ntcham last week; leaves door open for Celtic revival

By David Walton

April 8, 2021

Celtic interim manager John Kennedy has confirmed that he’s spoken to Olivier Ntcham recently as he offered hope of a potential revival for the Frenchman.

Ntcham is having an absolute nightmare of a time with Marseille as he spends the rest of the season on loan in France. He’s managed a grand total of five appearances for his new club. In four of them, he’s been hooked at half-time as he struggles to impress in Ligue 1 [Transfermarkt].

Marseille only have seven games remaining this season. Reports suggest that they’re now not interested in their option-to-buy clause either [La Provence]. That leaves Ntcham staring at a potential return to Glasgow as he enters the final 12 months of his deal.

And Kennedy believes that all loan stars who’ve been shipped out in the summer can still have their part to play. Touching on Ntcham in particular, the Celtic interim boss said the following via Celtic TV:

“Nothing is closed off on any of these guys. I’ve worked with Olivier for a long time. The last little period he’s found it difficult to find his form.

“But again he’s a very good player. Again he’s one that he wanted to go on a new challenge, go on loan, see how that developed, and I spoke to Olivier last week actually. He’s maybe not played the last couple of games, but he’s enjoying it – it’s a new experience for him.

“But the door isn’t shut on any of these guys. That’s something that we’ll just have to address as we come towards the end of the season. See what the squad make-up is, see how the balance is ad what needs brought in. Certainly, there’s an opportunity potentially for some of these guys to come back if it’s the right thing to do.”

John Kennedy comments sound promising; but a fresh start for Olivier Ntcham seems unlikely

Ntcham’s situation is different from that of a regular loan player. It’s not simply a case of him struggling to get minutes and wanting to go out and try to show us what we’re missing. The Frenchman simply wanted out ASAP in order to prove himself in a bigger league.

It’s not as if he’ll be itching to return to Celtic and make his mark next season. He’s already hinted that he couldn’t stay in Scotland if there were offers on the table elsewhere in Europe [RMC]. His Twitter message to the Celtic fans after his Marseille move was confirmed was also pretty telling.

So it’s difficult to bring players back into the mix when they feel that way. It’s not as if Ntcham has a burning desire to do well for Celtic. On the contrary, he actually appears to think he’s done pretty well for us and already proven himself here. It’s the step-up he wants.

  Celtic midfielder Olivier Ntcham on loan at Marseille / (Photo by Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images)

Of course, with any new manager, it always brings a fresh start. But Ntcham could fall into a similar bracket to that of Odsonne Edouard and Kris Ajer. It may not necessarily be the manager that’s the problem – it’s the level Celtic operate at on a weekly basis.

If Celtic were in one of Europe’s top five leagues, chances are all of our best players would want to stay. They would be highly motivated to perform for the club on a weekly basis and showcase their abilities to the world.

Ntcham just doesn’t have that enthusiasm to try his hardest for Celtic anymore. It’s difficult to see him even accepting a fresh start here even if he’s offered one.

In other news, Dominic McKay has highlighted 3 key reasons for his early SRU departure.