Celtic captain Scott Brown has stated that fellow midfielder Olivier Ntcham is loving life at Parkhead.
The Frenchman has had a fine campaign with 34 appearances to his name. However, his importance to the cause has increased in recent weeks as Neil Lennon has started him in all seven games since the winter break (Transfermarkt).
Ntcham was at it again yesterday when he curled home a fine opening goal at Clyde. His composure and class helped take away any fears of a 2006 repeat at Broadwood, and helped ease us into the last eight of the competition.
But all of this comes after a concerning period in the summer when it looked as though he was certain to leave. Yet Brown told the Scottish Sun that Ntcham is thoroughly enjoying himself in Glasgow once again.
“Oli loves it here, he’s enjoying playing, and showing his quality on the park. Everyone appreciates that and he tracks back too, which is what the manager wants.
“He played a little deeper today than he normally does with Callum McGregor being out and Ryan Christie being in the team, so he got a wee bit more of the ball.
“As soon as Oli gets it he’s got that drive to go forward. He can go past somebody, he’s got a goal in him, and has the vision to see a pass too. Oli is very confident on the ball and always willing to take it in any situation.”
Like a new player we didn’t think we’d have
Who could’ve predicted such an incredible turnaround from what was, undeniably, a concerning summer. Ntcham told L’Equipe that he would blossom if he was to move to Marseille, and that he was ready to make the move back to France.
However, some clear-the-air talks with Neil Lennon seemed to do the trick. But even then it still felt as though there was tension and you could still have questioned whether he would’ve been off in January.
Yet you watch Ntcham now and see a player who truly is blossoming at the heart of our engine room. He’s playing with a smile on his face and producing the best football he’s played since his first season back in 2017/18.
So far this season he has six goals and four assists, but Ntcham isn’t all about being directly involved in goals. As Brown says, he’s terrific at tracking back and ball-winning. His driving runs up the park can also get us on the front foot in an instant. He adds plenty to that midfield.
It remains to be seen whether we can fend off the interest that is sure to be there in the summer. Ntcham has been too influential this season to not be attracting admirers.
But until then it’s great to see that Ntcham is enjoying his football once again. Not many would’ve thought that was going to be the case at the start of the season.