Mike Ashley should sanction a Newcastle United swoop for Celtic midfielder Olivier Ntcham to join Steve Bruce’s side before Monday’s transfer deadline.
According to Sky Sports, the Toon have lodged an enquiry to sound out Ntcham’s availability as Bruce eyes the completion of a loan deal before the January window slams shut on Monday night.
The Hoops would favour a deal that carries an option to purchase the 24-year-old at the end of the season, as Ntcham is now inside the final 18-months of his £14,000-per-week contract.
Ntcham is said to have made it clear to Celtic that he wishes to leave Parkhead after being denied a move to Ligue 1 outfit Stade Brest on Deadline Day in the last transfer window, after the Hoops demanded £12m to part with the alleged former Southampton target.
Newcastle seemingly face competition from West Bromwich Albion in the race to sign the Frenchman, while a number of sides in the midfielder’s native country are also thought to be keen, with Celtic now said to value him at £7m.
Ntcham has only started 29% of the Hoops’ Premiership fixtures this term, with the former U21 international opening just seven of his 14 outings and not taking to the field at all since before Christmas.
A deal to sign Ntcham on loan with a view to a potential permanent deal at the end of the season is something Newcastle owner Ashley should very much consider sanctioning, as the 24-year-old is nowhere near his prime, yet he can offer Bruce an instant impact in the engine room.
Ntcham, lauded as an “excellent player” by Celtic icon John Collins, has been questioned for his inconsistency at times but has earned an array of interest over the years for being excellent on his day.
It was only last season that the Frenchman scored eight goals and provided four assists across all competitions, with strikes to his name in the Premiership, Europa League and both domestic cups.
He needed just two minutes on the field at Motherwell to score his only goal of the current campaign, too, having come on to replace Tom Rogic in the closing stages and soon tapping Odsonne Edouard’s pass into Aaron Chapman’s net. Only to then face exile at Parkhead.
Jonjo Shelvey was Bruce’s top-scorer in the Premier League last season, with the midfielder scoring eight goals. But Newcastle have only seen 10-goal forward Callum Wilson find the net more than Jeff Hendrick and Miguel Almiron this term, who are the only ones to have also hit home more than once.
Despite featuring little in the Premiership this season, Ntcham can additionally offer Bruce a creative output, as the 24-year-old has delivered 23 crosses into the box and directs 36.4% of his shots on target, per FBref. Only Jamal Lewis (28) and Ryan Fraser (25) have registered a greater number of crosses for the Toon in the Premier League this term.
So, if Celtic are receptive to a loan-to-buy deal, Ashley should absolutely be on the phone to get a deal across the line before Monday’s deadline passes, as the upsides far outweigh the negatives at the price Newcastle would likely have to pay.
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