Celtic handed midfielder Olivier Ntcham a new four-year contract in November, but given his form in general this season and his latest display in the 2-0 defeat against Hibernian on Sunday, the club may have made a catastrophic mistake.
Well, it certainly came a bit out of the blue when the Frenchman committed his future to the Glasgow giants for a couple of reasons – firstly it appeared as though the 22-year-old was destined for bigger and better things following some of his displays previously and may not have wanted to stay, and secondly because he had been performing nowhere near the levels he had shown previously so far this term.
The former Manchester City man has had some injury issues and the departure of his national compatriot Moussa Dembele to Lyon on the final day of the summer transfer window did appear to affect his performances on the pitch.
The fact that he has struggled to make the starting XI since putting pen-to-paper is an indictment of those factors taking their toll, and it might have been a surprise that Peter Lawwell and Brendan Rodgers chose to tie him down when they did.
It is looking as though they have.
Ntcham may have scored in the 2-1 Europa League defeat to Red Bull Salzburg on Thursday night, but it was an injury-time penalty rebound after he had missed the original spot-kick, and after he had come on as a substitute.
The France U21 international may have scored six goals and provided one assist in 26 appearances in all competitions, as per Transfermarkt, but he only played 45 minutes against Motherwell earlier this month before being hauled off at half-time, and he was then a substitute against Salzburg and Kilmarnock.
Ryan Christie’s injury helped him work his way back into the XI against Hibernian in Edinburgh at the weekend, but he looked off the pace and struggled to press Neil Lennon’s men, while his passing was far from being on point.
Ntcham clearly has talent, but handing him a four-year contract last month might have been the worst thing Celtic could have done.