A product of the famed Le Havre youth academy, currently on the books of Manchester City and having spent the last two years impressing in Serie A – Olivier Ntcham is one of Europe’s hottest talents. And he’s on his way to Celtic.
With the 21-year-old arriving in Glasgow yesterday ahead of a reported medical at Parkhead, our trading team closed the book on him joining the Hoops, with the move considered a done deal. So, just who is Ntcham…and how good is he?
Signed by the Citizens from Le Havre back in 2012, he headed straight into the club’s development side, making his debut in Premier League 2 at the tender age of 16, in November of that year.
A tough, classy and dynamic performer, he helped City to back-to-back top-five finishes between 2013 and 2015, chalking up five goals and four assists in the process.
It’s perhaps a surprise then, that he didn’t get game time, even at a club of the Citizens’ size – but the Frenchman did seize his chance at top-level football during a two-season loan stint with Serie A outfit Genoa.
After a bright 2015-16 in which he impressed during intermittent spells in the Rossoblu side, Ntcham was a key performer for Ivan Juric’s men last term, with his vital contributions helping them avoid the drop.
The Longjumeau native dominated the midfield in a number of key games, including a virtuoso display in the 3-1 victory away at Crotone – and ended the season with three goals under his belt, including a 94th-minute equaliser against Bologna and an 89th-minute winner at Empoli. Truly a man for the big moment.
That ability to dig out vital goals in tough situations could be especially important in Celtic’s Champions League push – with the Bhoys looking to build on last season’s entertaining and highly respectable European run.
Brendan Rodgers also has the bonus of Ntcham already having a rapport with Hoops hitman Moussa Dembele, with the pair having played together for France’s Under-21 side.
So, the young Frenchman looks set to be one of Celtic’s key players this term – but it’s up to the current crop to get the business done in their first UCL assignment of 2017-18.
The Hoops head to Linfield on Friday night, with 1/16 on offer for Rodgers’ side to record a first-leg victory.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing