OLIVIER NTCHAM quit Celtic because he was “fed up” – and now faces an “apocalypse” after agreeing a loan deal at Marseille.
The French midfielder triggered a storm at the volatile Ligue 1 club when his arrival was announced and team boss Andre Vilas-Boas immediately offered his resignation in protest, as CQN reported.
Ntcham is standing by to make his debut against Lens this evening following the suspension of the Portuguese coach in the midst of a furious backlash at the side who were forced to postpone their game against Rennes at the weekend after rioting fans set fire to trees outside the training complex.
Explaining the reason for the 24-year-old’s exit, Hoops boss Lennon, speaking to BBC Sportsound, said: “It’s not the club that he’s unhappy with. I think it’s just his life in Glasgow.
“He was a bit fed up and indifferent about the Scottish game and I think he wanted a new challenge, like a few of them have maintained since the start of the season. It’s a difficult thing to claw them back in.
“He’s a talented player. This time last year he was absolutely superb, between January and March. Between then and the lockdown, something got disconnected with Olivier; he couldn’t get that desire or passion back to play.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT…French newspaper’s front page.
But Ntcham has now landed in the eye of the storm in his homeland after Villas-Boas revealed he had told the club not to sign him and claimed he only knew about the transfer when he heard the news yesterday morning.
His arrival has sparked civil war and local newspaper La Provence has described the extraordinary situation as ‘Apocalypse OM’.
The sensational development has been given a five-page special and made headlines across France.
L’Équipe put Villas-Boas on its front page with the headline ‘Run For Your Life’ while Le Phocéen wondered if players would be able to play in such “chaos”.
Ntcham further enraged the vociferous club support when an interview surfaced in which he admitted to being fan of Paris Saint-Germain, detested by the Marseille fans.
He was quoted: “I am a supporter of Paris Saint-Germain and I have always been.
“They are a team that I follow regularly, I try to watch all the matches, I support them. When they score, it does something to me.”
HEAD OVER HEELS…Olivier Ntcham’s acrobatic celebrations are admired by Scott Brown after his Scottish Cup Final goal against Motherwell in May 2018.
Ntcham, who is under contract at Celtic until June 2022, obviously has no intention of returning to Celtic, so he will be hoping the situation is defused at the French club.
He took to Twitter to pay tribute to his former team-mates. He wrote: “I am very happy to have joined the Marseillaise family! It’s a pleasure to honour the jersey of a big club like Marseille.
“I will be always thankful for everything Celtic gave me and I wish you all the best for the future.”
Ntcham, who cost the nine-in-a-row champions £4.5million when Brendan Rodgers bought him from Manchester City in June 2017, agreed the switch to the struggling French side until the end of the season and they hold an option to make the move permanent for a fee similar to the one paid to the Etihad club.
The player made 147 appearances and claimed some important goals for the Hoops, including a scorcher in the 2-0 Scottish Cup Final win over Motherwell at Hampden in 2018 and also the Europa League winner against Lazio at Stadio Olimpico last season as the Glasgow club claimed their first-ever win on Italian soil.
Now he faces a whole new ball-game in his homeland.
Bonne chance, Olivier!