OLIVIER Ntcham is on the verge of leaving Celtic after controversially claiming he is too good for Scottish football and that he deserves to play for a bigger club.

The 23-year-old Frenchman is almost certain to seal a £13m-plus move to Marseille this month and has now surely burned his bridges with Neil Lennon, team-mates and the Celtic supporters.

Midfielder Ntcham had a disappointing season last time out, the low point being the New Year derby at Ibrox when he hardly got a touch of the ball as his side lost to Rangers for the first time in 13 attempts. He made 70 starts for Celtic over two years, scoring 15 goals, but made only 16 league appearances last season because of form and injury.

He was noticeably badly affected by the departure of close friend Moussa Dembele last August, and his mood wasn’t helped by the collapse of a switch to Porto when a fee could not be agreed.


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Ntcham signed from Manchester City for £4.5m, two years ago and while he won six trophies and scored some important goals, including in the 2018 Scottish Cup final, he ended the last campaign as a fringe player which is why his comments have been greeted with bemusement.

He said: “Celtic has given me a lot but leaving is the best solution for my development. We can do as many matches as we want but, with all due respect for my opponents, if the level in front is not high, you do not progress.

“I was really disappointed not to have gone to Porto last summer.

“I have played with players who have less quality than me and who are today in top clubs. Each player’s journey is different. I am 200% sure of myself. I am not saying that I am a complete player but I know that I will become one.”

Marseille are favourites to sign Ntcham who admitted to craving a move to one of Europe’s top leagues.

He said: “What could be the perfect stage for me? A big championship: Germany, France, Spain - coming back to France would be something very, very good.

"The interest of the Marseille? It is flattering. It is a very big club with very big support. If I went to Marseille, I would blossom, I have always signed for clubs with lots of fans."


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“If I went to Marseille, I would blossom, I have always signed for clubs with lots of fans.”

An agent who works with the company which looks after Kieran Tierney has admitted that the left-back would only move if Arsenal or anyone else met Celtic’s £25m asking price.

Alan Preston, the former Hearts and St Johnstone player, works with the Stellar Group which Tierney joined last year and whose clients include Gareth Bale and Scotland rugby star Finn Russell.

Speaking on the BBC, Preston said: “It is all down to Celtic, if they get a price that they believe is the correct value for Kieran Tierney he could possibly be on his way. No one has hit that price yet

“I know Kieran really well, I had some food with him the other day, he is such an unassuming young man. He is wealthy at the moment but he doesn’t possess a watch, he isn’t into material things like this.

"He still hangs about his pals from when he was a youngster, he sponsors his local pub team where his pals play and he’s not into his designer gear or anything like that.

“As the guys say he loves Celtic, he absolutely loves Celtic. Will there be a time for Kieran Tierney to go? I think that there will be, if it’s just now it will be up to the clubs involved. Arsenal, Napoli or whoever to then put the money on the table and make Celtic think about this.

“If he is on his way, he’s on his way. If there is a time for Kieran to go it will be up to Celtic, Peter Lawwell and the board. They have signed a left back but they do need one because Emilio Izaguirre is away.”