To suggest Olivier Ntcham’s season has been one of farcical nature would be putting things lightly. The Celtic loanee has been key in recent years but much like the Hoops’ campaign as a whole, it has been a pillar of frustration.
The Frenchman’s attitude has been questioned in recent months but on deadline day, he finally got his move away. Ntcham joined Marseille on loan with an option to buy, departing a club that clearly he didn’t want to be part of.
Though, in comical circumstances, the former manager of the Ligue 1 side – Andre Villas-Boas – threatened to resign after Ntcham’s arrival. The Portuguese claimed he didn’t want him at the club and in a peculiar press conference, revealed he had desires to leave his managerial post behind. Unsurprisingly, he was sacked.
Fortunately, that isn’t Celtic’s business. What is, however, is finding someone to succeed Ntcham in the middle of the park.
Of course, Neil Lennon can call upon the likes of Tom Rogic and David Turnbull in central areas but there is a young player who now deserves an opportunity to prove his worth in the middle – Ewan Henderson.
The midfielder has only ever played ten times for the senior team and has appeared on just two occasions in the SPFL this term. Though, if you believe the words of Brendan Rodgers and take his performances in mind, he could add something to this Celtic midfield.
After all, the 20-year-old has similar energetic qualities to Ntcham. Speaking about Henderson in 2019 after a 4-1 win over Motherwell, Rodgers said: “You see his quality in the game. He’s playing against a good team, that are strong, that are physical and also play very good football. He was in there, played 90 minutes, showed his poise, showed his control.
“He’s got physical development to come but he was a joy to watch, his touch and control of the game. His ball for the goal was sensational and he played with real maturity.”
Interestingly, those words came just weeks after the current Leicester boss hailed Henderson as a “big talent.”
What made Ntcham such a threat, though, was his lung-busting runs from midfield. Fortunately, that’s a quality Henderson can provide.
Daily Record reporter Graeme Thomson once wrote: “Henderson oozes class and can pick a pass while he also covered every blade of grass as he showed he has the speed and mobility needed to make it at the very top level.”
The stats this season certainly suggest he can succeed Ntcham. He completed two dribbles and was fouled on two occasions when he caught the eye against Lille in the Europa League.
He’s also tough in the tackle too, something he showed on loan at Ross County last term. In five matches that SofaScore provided statistics for, Henderson completed six tackles. Considering he started just two of those outings, it’s an eye-catching tally.
Lennon has very rarely handed out opportunities to young players but Henderson is someone who now has to play more regularly. He has the potential to be Celtic’s successor to Ntcham.