Why Celtic man Olivier Ntcham won't feature for Marseille tonight

By David Walton

March 10, 2021

Olivier Ntcham has certainly had his hardships at Marseille since signing on-loan from Celtic last month.

Fast forward a month and he’s failed to play over 45 minutes and been hooked at half-time in the two starts he’s made. Added to that there has been heavy criticism from supporters [Football club de Marseille], as well as the uncertainty of a managerial change to deal with.

It certainly hasn’t gone how Ntcham will have envisioned. The prospect of Marseille taking up that option-to-buy clause is looking less and less likely by the week.

However, for those tuning in to the Marseille game tonight against Rennes to see whether Ntcham can bounce back, you won’t find him in the starting XI or even on the bench.

The reason being that tonight’s game is a rearranged clash. Marseille were due to face Rennes back in January. However, violent protests from Marseille supporters over the club’s form led to the game being postponed. At the time, Ntcham had yet to sign and wasn’t registered for the clash.

"Postecoglou got every player's respect straight away" | 67HH chats to Liam Shaw and Osaze Urhoghide

Another game in which Ntcham can’t make an impact for Marseille

So don’t worry if you tune in tonight and see he isn’t taking part. Ligue 1 rules don’t allow newly signed players to play in rearranged fixtures they wouldn’t otherwise have been eligible for [La Provence].

And this one is an even bigger blow than it normally would be. Because this marks the beginning of new manager Jorge Sampaoli’s reign in charge. That means Ntcham’s midfield rivals will be given a chance to impress the new boss ahead of him. That’s particularly concerning given Ntcham’s a loan player.

It also doesn’t help given it’s only been several days since Marseille were knocked out of the French Cup. To a fourth-tier side at that and in a game Ntcham was subbed in. You can bet Sampaoli will have been watching that one, and he wouldn’t have been impressed.

Former Celtic midfielder Olivier Ntcham warming up for L’OM / (Photo by John Berry/Getty Images)

Nothing about this temporary spell in France is actually doing Ntcham any good. He’s struggling to perform and as such it’s adding a tidal wave of pressure onto him from the French press. He’s effectively gone from sitting on the bench at Celtic to sitting on the bench with Marseille.

After tonight, they only have 10 games reamining. What can he reasonably show in such a small period of time that will lead to Marseille buying him outright?

Ntcham’s simply waited too long at this rate even if he does start performing. And as he watches on from the stands tonight, you couldn’t blame him for wandering thoughts regarding his long-term future.

In other news, two former Celtic players have been linked with the Aberdeen manager’s job.