Report: Olivier Ntcham agrees to leave; AEK Athens confident Celtic will release him
Greek journalist Giannis Chorianopoulos has claimed that Olivier Ntcham has agreed terms to join AEK Athens should Celtic decide not to keep him.
The Hoops have the option to extend Ntcham’s Celtic contract until the summer of 2022. As things stand, he’s scheduled to leave at the end of the month. The same situation extends to several others at the club such as Leigh Griffiths and Armstrong Okoflex. Anthony Ralston has reportedly had his year-long option triggered [Scottish Sun].
No decision appears to have been confirmed regarding Ntcham’s long-term future. However, Chorianopoulos has reported on Twitter that Athens are confident he’ll be a free agent from July 1st.
— Giannis Chorianopoulos (@choria80) June 21, 2021
It remains to be seen whether Athens’ interest will remain should Celtic trigger a deal. Celtic signed Ntcham from Manchester City for £4.5m in the summer of 2017 [BBC], so it would be a sore one to lose him for nothing.
Earlier this month, the Scottish Sun reported that Ntcham was being offered a £1m-per-year deal to move to Greece.
Triggering Olivier Ntcham extension dependent on attitude; AEK Athens move feels likely destination
You can see the argument for triggering Ntcham’s extension. The old “on his day” argument is extremely relevant for the Frenchman, who was arguably the best midfielder in the country during his first campaign in Scotland.
Even now you could argue he’s the most technically gifted centre-midfielder in the Premiership. However, he’s stated in the past that he sees himself as above Scottish football [The Herald]. Even if a failed loan spell with Marseille damaged his ego, his previous viewpoint is a hard one to move on from.
Granted, he’s hardly moving to a stronger league. Whilst AEK Athens and Olympiakos have decent pedigree in Europe, there isn’t much to shout about under that. Greek football isn’t a step-up from where Ntcham is currently at.
And given the extension to Ralston, it surely makes sense to give the Frenchman an extra year and see whether he can work under Ange Postecoglou. That seems to be the way of thinking given it’s the only possible explanation for Anthony’s extension. But it’s all to do with Ntcham’s mindset.
If he goes into the office of the new boss this week and tells him he wants to give his all here, that year would need to be triggered. However, if he still has major doubts over whether he can thrive in Scotland, he needs to move.
So expect everything to be dependent on how Ntcham views things here. Given the reports from Chorianopoulos, the ex Man City man looks to have already made his mind up.
In other news, Brendan Rodgers has reportedly turned his attentions to a second Celtic player after being frustrated last week.