Most Celtic supporters weren’t too concerned by the reports linking Stuart Armstrong with a summer move to the Premier League, despite just a year remaining on his current contract.
After all, the dynamic midfielder made all the right noises about extending his stay at Parkhead and manager Brendan Rodgers told the Evening Times he was confident that the Scottish champions would reach an agreement with one of their most treasured players.
Armstrong enjoyed his most prolific season to date in 2016/17
However, in a surprise twist, the Scottish Sun claims that contract talks have now stalled. The report adds that Celtic have put a new deal on the table for Armstrong, whose 17 goals last season helped them secure a domestic treble.
Yet, it is understood that Celtic have warned the Scotland international’s agent to be more realistic with his demands. And though this snag is far from fatal, it gives hope to Premier League pair Brighton and Southampton, who the Scottish Sun claim are keen on the £10 million-rated former Dundee United midfielder.
On the upside, however, Celtic appear to have already snared the perfect replacement if Armstrong does indeed depart either this summer or next. The Scottish Sun reports that Celtic are on the verge of signing Manchester City prodigy Olivier Ntcham on a four-year contract after agreeing a fee worth up to £5 million.
The former France Under-16 captain has been likened to City team-mate Yaya Toure and that tells you everything you need to know about this playing style. Dynamic and powerful though blessed with a velvet touch, Ntcham could be a readymade successor for the energetic Armstrong in Celtic’s engine room.
Like Armstrong, Ntcham is a direct and dynamic midfielder
And that should be another warning to the Hoops favourite. He may have been essential last season but no one is irreplaceable.