Young, talented and crying out for a fresh start, Mario Pasalic was in many ways the typical Celtic target.
The Croatian midfielder may have enhanced his reputation with impressive loan spells at Monaco and AC Milan in the last two seasons but, even still, a first-chance chance at Chelsea was not forthcoming. As such, with Blues manager Antonio Conte making clear that Pasalic was not part of his plans, ABC Sevilla reported that Celtic, as well as Leeds United, were interested in taking the goalscoring play-maker off their hands.
Pasalic started 20 Serie A games for Milan last season
However, Gazzetta Dello Sport are now reporting that Lazio are edging closer to a deal to take Pasalic back to Serie A. The capital-based club, who finished an impressive fifth last season, will sign the 22-year-old on a season long load with the option to make the deal permanent for around £9 million next summer.
However, while Celtic may be disappointed to miss out on one of Europe’s most promising young midfielders, the fact that they landed another for almost half the price will surely go some way to compensating.
The BBC report that the Scottish treble winners paid just £4.5 million to land Olivier Ntcham on a four-year deal from Manchester City. And while the 21-year-old has not made his mark at bona fide European giants like Monaco and Milan, there is no doubting his quality.
In fact, Andrea Mandorlini, who Ntcham worked under during a loan spell at Genoa, described the former France Under-16 captain as ‘one of the most exciting talents in world football’, via the Scottish Sun.
Ntcham was compared to Yaya Toure
And despite being on the wrong end of a 4-0 drubbing against Lazio in Saturday’s pre-season clash, Ntcham offered glimpses of his precocious talent.
"He has the qualities to play at the very highest level,” manager Brendan Rodgers told the BBC.
At £4.5 million, Ntcham could prove to be a snip for half the price it would have taken to bring Pasalic to Glasgow.