When Olivier Ntcham joined Celtic in what was a £4.5m deal back in the summer of 2017, hopes for the former France U21 international would have undoubtedly been extremely high amongst the Parkhead faithful.
Indeed, the central midfielder had enjoyed a solid two-year loan spell at Serie A side Genoa in the previous campaigns, scoring three goals and registering two assists over his 41 appearances for the Italian club, as well as averaging a SofaScore match rating of 6.80 over his 37 league fixtures for I Rossoblu.
Furthermore, then-Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers clearly thought very highly of the Frenchman, stating of Ntcham upon his arrival in Glasgow: “Olivier is a player I have been looking at for near on eight months now, so I was aware of him in the second half of last season and before that.
“He’s a player I always felt could work well for us. He has everything: he’s 21 years of age, he’s got a little bit of experience in playing senior football, but now he really needs that opportunity to go and flourish.
“Technically, he’s very gifted and, tactically, he understands the game at a good level. He has many different technical qualities – he can pass, he can dribble and he can shoot. He’s highly gifted. Physically he has everything – he is powerful, quick and good in the duel. For us, it’s a very big signing.”
And, life at Celtic got off to an impressive start for the midfielder, scoring nine goals and registering six assists over his 48 appearances in all competitions during his debut campaign, bagging six goals and providing one assist over 37 fixtures back in 2018/19 and scoring eight goals and registering four assists over 39 appearances in the following season.
However, in the summer of 2019, the midfielder revealed in an interview with L’Equipe that he would be open to leaving Celtic, as well as suggesting that Scottish football was not a big enough challenge for a player of his ability – comments which led to criticism from Celtic legend Chris Sutton.
Although, after no move materialised that summer, Ntcham remained on Celtic’s books, but found game time much harder to come by under the leadership of Neil Lennon – being handed 17 starts in the Scottish Premiership fixtures in 2019/20 and just seven starts in 2020/21, before being loaned out to Olympique Marseille in February this year.
And, after returning to Parkhead this summer, Celtic took the decision to allow the Frenchman to leave the club on a free transfer, bringing his four-year stay in Glasgow to a rather unceremonious end.
However, after linking up with Swansea City ahead of the 2021/22 campaign, the £2.7m-rated man has started to show that Celtic’s decision to allow him to leave on a free could have been something of a mistake, as, over his 10 Championship appearances this season, Ntcham has already scored two goals, registered one assist and created one big chance for his teammates.
These returns have seen the 25-year-old midfielder average a SofaScore match rating of 6.84, ranking him as Russell Martin’s eighth-best performer in the second tier of English football so far this term.
And, with Tom Rogic’s recent injury highlighting Celtic’s lack of attacking depth in the middle of the park, perhaps the argument could be made that the Bhoys endured something of a nightmare when letting Ntcham leave for nothing this summer.