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Earlier this week, Scottish champions Celtic completed the signing of 21-year old Olivier Ntcham from Manchester City for £4.5 million transfer fees (BBC).
The highly-rated midfielder, who spent the last season away on loan with Italian club Genoa, has signed a four-year deal with the Hoops. The player revealed that Celtic had been in contact with him in January itself, regarding a move to the Parkhead and that compatriot Moussa Dembele played an important role in convincing him to make the jump.
“Moussa [Dembele] told me the club was good, it was fun here, I’m very happy to be here and it’s a new challenge for me,“ Ntcham was quoted as saying by BBC, after the completion of the move.
He further added, “I spoke with Brendan before. In January, Celtic was already there for me when I was in Italy, so that’s why I came here.”
Ntcham becomes Celtic’s third signing, following the arrivals of Jonny Hayes from Aberdeen and Kundayi Benyu from Ipswich Town. Let’s take a closer look at Brendan Rodgers’ latest addition and what will he be bringing to the table;
Born in Longjumeau, France, on 8 August 1996, Ntcham started off his footballing journey with Chennevières-sur-Marne in 2004, before moving on to US Ormesson a year later. Three years later he joined VGA Saint-Maur and had a spell with Paris FC a year later as well, before joining the Le Havre academy in 2010.
Having spent two years with Le Havre, Ntcham refused to sign a professional contract with the club and was signed by Manchester City in the summer of 2012. Since his arrival, the youngster became a regular in the City reserve side and made 14 appearances in his first season, and notched up 15 more in his second campaign scoring twice and setting up two more. His best season for the Citizens’ reserve side came in 2014/15, bagging 4 goals and 6 assists in 26 games.
Ahead of the 2015/16 season, he was shipped out on loan to Serie A club Genoa for two years (with an option to buy), where he made 17 league appearances, registering 1 assist as the club finished in the 11th place in the Italian top flight. He played 20 times in the 2016/17 campaign, scoring thrice and setting up one more, with Genoa finishing 16th in the Serie A.
Upon returning to City after Genoa did not exercise their option to buy, he decided to join Celtic and leaves the English outfit without making a single senior appearance.
Ntcham has represented the France national team across all age groups. He was part of the France U-21 squad for the UEFA U-21 European champions last month and made his debut on June 5. He has played twice for the France U-21s.
Primarily a central midfielder, Ntcham has shown great versatility in his short career as he has been used in the hole behind the striker on a number of occasions at Genoa and has also featured on the left-flank as well.
The 21-year old’s biggest strength is his physicality and athleticism. He is tall, possesses good strength and energy and has a strong frame for a 21-year old. A powerful midfielder, Ntcham also possesses good technical ability as well. A good range of distribution, intelligence and mature decision-making and ability to retain possession – all important qualities needed from a midfielder and the Frenchman ticks all the boxes.
The youngster enjoys creative freedom in the attacking third but can perform equally well when deployed in a deeper role as well. However, his finishing in front of goal is something that needs a lot of work upon while he will also need to improve on performing his defensive duties if he is to play in a defensive role in the middle of the park.
With no chances of breaking into the first-team at City anytime soon, the player has done the smart thing and joined Celtic, under a manager who has been monitoring him for a while and isn’t shy from backing young talent.
He may not turn out to be an instant blockbuster hit like Moussa Dembele, but Celtic have gotten themselves a good young player with great potential.