Scott Brown and various other former Celtic players were sought out for references by the Swansea City head coach Russell Martin ahead of his decision to offer the former Celtic midfielder a lifeline as far as his playing career was concerned.
Ntcham left Celtic by mutual consent last month after failing to get a move to AEK Athens earlier in the summer as the Greek side were led to believe that the French midfielder would have been a free agent on 1 July. That was not the case as Celtic looked to secure a transfer fee by taking up the fourth year option on the former Manchester City player’s contract.
Celtic had paid the English Champions £4.5m for Ntcham and were looking for a recoup some of that investment for a player who once attracted an offer of around £11m from Porto – and Celtic rejected it!
But when AEK Athens walked away from the deal, Celtic were left with a player who was clearly not going to be part of Ange Postecoglou’s plans and who was one of the group of Want Aways alongside Kristoffer Ajer, Ryan Christie and Odsonne Edouard and Celtic were looking to move all four on for maximum fees possible. So while that was certainly achieved for three of the four the exception was Ntcham was had to be mutually consented, no doubt with a proportion of his salary paid for this season. Un coup dur.
There was also the headline grabbing, unhappy and unsuccessful loan spell at Marseille in the January transfer window where the arrival of the loan signing from Celtic signalled the immediate resignation of André Villas-Boas, admittedly his beef was that the club were signing players and not him and he specifically did not want Ntcham.
So with these shenanigans at Celtic and Marseille and in the negotiations with AEK Athens any manager looking at taking a punt on Olivier Ntcham would have been crazy not to do his own due diligence before welcoming the Frenchman to their football club.
Russell Martin has told the Swansea City club website that he has done just that, as he prepares to give the pusillanimous former Celtic man his debut against Hull City this weekend. The game is at home or we could have used ‘To Hull and Back’ as our headline (lol).
The emergence of the Want Aways…READ THIS…Au revoir – Pusillanimous Ntcham Wants Away
And after talking to various players and coaches with inside knowledge of Ntcham’s time at Celtic, Martin was confident enough to give the Frenchman a three year contract joining Michael Obafemi and loanee Rhys Williams as the Welsh club’s latest additions.
Ntcham had been training alone at the French national base at Clairefontaine since his Celtic exit was confirmed several weeks ago. The Swansea boss accepts that this is not ideal and that training alone inevitably means there will be a period of adaptation, but he believes that the 25-year-old former Celtic midfielder will be ready for the game against Hull.
“We do need to be a bit patient, but he’s arrived in incredible shape,” said the Swansea head coach, told the club’s official website.
“There’s nothing quite like playing games and training properly; training on your own is tough, but he’s worked extremely hard to keep himself in really good shape, and that’s down to his mentality.
“I think he’s got a really good mentality to work, and I spoke to a few players at Celtic about that; about him and his approach to training, and they spoke so highly of him.
“I spoke to Scott Brown about him. I spoke to him and a couple of other guys who aren’t at Celtic anymore. A couple members of staff, too, who I’ve worked with in the Scotland set-up that work for Celtic.
“They all spoke really highly of Olivier. He’s played at a club with a huge expectancy to win every single week, he’s played in the Champions League…
“We have to be a little bit patient, but he’s in good shape and he’s a brilliant player, and I expect him to be ready to be in a position to start against Hull.”