Saturday 21 October 2017

Olivier Ntcham says prospect of Champions League football drew him to Celtic

Olivier Ntcham has joined Celtic
Olivier Ntcham has joined Celtic

Olivier Ntcham has revealed the prospect of Champions League football made his decision to leave Manchester City for Celtic an easy one.

The France Under-21 international has signed a four-year contract with Celtic after they agreed a fee with Pep Guardiola's side.

Ntcham has spent the past two seasons on loan at Serie A side Genoa and the 21-year-old felt he would get the chance to develop as a player under Brendan Rodgers and in Europe's elite competition, although he is not ready for their opening qualifier against Linfield.

When asked about leaving City, Ntcham said: "It wasn't a tough decision for me, it was a normal decision, because I moved there when I was 16 and played there for three years. When you stay there, you understand a lot of things. Sometimes it is better to leave. Football is like this sometimes.

"I spoke with Brendan before and the talks were good. In January Celtic were already there for me when I was with Genoa in Italy.

"He said to me that you have to play, because if you don't play you won't improve, so you have to play because in Italy you don't play a lot, and it's not really your ideal place because in Italy it's a little bit more tactical."

The midfielder, who described himself as a "powerful and technical" player, added: " Not all clubs can play in the Champions League, that's why I chose to come here.

"I just watched one Celtic game, it was against Barca maybe four or five years ago and they won. That's how I knew Celtic. It was an unbelievable atmosphere."

Ntcham joins international team-mate Moussa Dembele at Parkhead and he expects the former Fulham striker to stay for the coming season despite speculation over his future following his 32-goal first campaign.

"Moussa told me the club was good, it's big fun here. He knows not all clubs have the Champions League, so it's good to stay.

"I was 16, maybe even before, 14, when we first played together for the French national team. We always stay together."

Celtic take on Linfield in Belfast on Friday in the first leg of their Champions League second qualifying round, but Ntcham expects to build up his fitness before making his debut.

"My body weight is good but I don't think I am fit to play now," he said.

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