Olivier Ntcham’s response to the idea of him leaving Celtic in January was brief, but it was exactly what we needed to hear.
The Frenchman was yesterday linked with a move to West Ham United. Foot Mercato claimed that he was in “advanced talks” with the Hammers. The Daily Record then shot it down with their own report claiming that sources had informed them that it was only paper-talk.
Ntcham started and scored against St Johnstone last night in a brilliant performance from the former Manchester City man. But it wasn’t only on the pitch where Ntcham gave us the answers we were looking for.
Speaking to BT Sport during their coverage of St Johnstone vs Celtic (BT Sport 1, 29/01, 21:40), Ntcham confirmed that he wouldn’t be leaving the club and that he’ll still be here when February rolls around.
“Yeah yeah for sure (whether he’ll still be at Celtic in February), I’m really happy and looking forward to playing for Celtic.”
Time to put this one firmly to bed
Ntcham’s response is enough to put this rumour to bed. He’s going nowhere and that’s fantastic news for Celtic, who’ve seen him blossom into one of the key components of our midfield in recent weeks.
So far this season, Ntcham has made 32 appearances and been directly involved in 10 goals (Transfermarkt). Six of those have been his own strikes, whilst he’s managed four further assists.
Neil Lennon has shown immense faith in him since returning from the winter break too. Ntcham has played 90 minutes against Partick Thistle, Kilmarnock, and St Johnstone respectively. At the weekend, he played 70 minutes of the 3-0 win against Ross County. Lennon is certainly giving him his chances.
It’s a big difference compared to last season. Come the end of last term, Ntcham had played 37 games overall (Transfermarkt). He’s likely going to go past that next month, with plenty of more matches ahead. It’s no surprise that increased game-time has him feeling good about himself.
Had he left to go to West Ham or anywhere else, we were in trouble when it came to quality cover. Whilst the likes of Nir Bitton has his uses, we wouldn’t really have had a serious alternative to Scott Brown or Callum McGregor outside of Ismaila Soro.
So putting the cross through this one is great. Hopefully, Ntcham can have just as big an impact in the second half of the season as he did in the first.