The Scottish Sun has reported that Olivier Ntcham is being targeted for a summer move to Southampton, and that the player himself would leap at the chance.
The Sun states that the Saints made contact with Celtic regarding the Frenchman before the January window came to a close. They also put Ntcham on their shortlist ahead of the summer.
The reason Ntcham would be so willing to leave, oddly, is because he isn’t a regular under Neil Lennon. Yet he’s still played 32 times so far this season in a productive campaign for him (Transfermarkt).
West Ham were linked with a move for Ntcham before the window closed, but Celtic boss Neil Lennon dismissed the speculation (Daily Record).
Summer loss would be a blow, but Celtic could recover
If there was a good time to sell Ntcham, it would be the summer. It gives us the chance to plan ahead and ensure that he has a ready-made replacement available to come in.
In addition to that, we would all hope that Ismaila Soro is up to speed by then. Perhaps he could even step into Ntcham’s shoes in the midfield and become a regular. You would hope, after six months at the club, he would be ready to make an impact.
But of course it’s not easy to replace a player of Ntcham’s quality. He’s now won back-to-back trebles during his two years at Celtic. His passing-range is up there with the best in Scotland, and he proved at St Johnstone just how influential he can be to the team when we’re playing well.
This could also lead to us seeing our next big-money departure from Parkhead. Given how long Ntcham is under contract in Glasgow, there’s no pressure on Celtic to sell. Yes, he made those comments to L’Equipe about moving to France last summer, but it won’t be his decision.
Celtic shouldn’t be selling Ntcham for anything less than top dollar. He’s proven his importance to the team over the last two-and-a-half years. It’s only right that we get what we’re entitled to for him.
Fair play to the club for rejecting any January interest from Saints too. All eyes will now be on whether we do the same in the summer.