Olivier Ntcham has stated his desire to leave Celtic claiming the level of ability in Scotland is ‘not high’. This should give Celtic and Neil Lennon the perfect chance to move on a midfielder who barely stood out last season.
He only featured 20 times for Celtic in the Premiership last season and was far from an integral cog in his side’s journey to a third consecutive treble. At the age of 23, he should’ve really ousted 34-year-old Scott Brown from Celtic’s midfield last year after an encouraging debut season in Scotland yet he regressed, seemingly taking the hump after the club rejected a £13 million bid from Porto in the 2018 summer window.
Even then he should’ve used the bid as a form of motivation spurring him on to play at a higher level- which he clearly feels he can- yet glimpses of talent were few and far between as Brown and Callum McGregor established themselves as the dominant duo in the heart of both Brendan Rodgers’ and Lennon’s Celtic midfield.
It’s telling that Rodgers and new club Leicester had been linked to McGregor yet not Ntcham (someone Rodgers brought to Parkhead and seemingly available for a transfer this summer), probably suggesting that his former boss couldn’t trust the mercurial 23-year-old.
There’s clearly a player in Ntcham and we all got to see it during his first year in Scotland but given his worrying drop in form and sulking after the Porto bid was rejected you worry if all the hassle is really worth it.
Moussa Dembele made clear noises that he wanted to leave Celtic- and duly got his move to Lyon– but that was warranted given how much he’d done for the club. Kieran Tierney looks to have earned himself a move this summer and there are no signs that the 22-year-old is agitating for a move away despite it being well within the rights of a player who’s given his all for Celtic over the past four years.
Where Ntcham’s arrogance has come from you can’t be sure given his status as a Celtic squad player and lack of real contribution to the club over the past 12 months but it does give Lennon the chance to move on a player who could bring in a decent fee and would leave with little backing from Celtic supporters.
Lennon could see it as a blessing in disguise as he looks to remodel his team and any funds brought in by Ntcham’s potential sale would most likely be worth more than hanging on to a player who last season at best was frustrating and more realistically a nuisance and an expendable member of staff.