THE news of Olivier Ntcham signing a four-year contract at Celtic a fortnight ago would have been met with joy by supporters, but there was no one associated with the club happier than manager Brendan Rodgers.

Not even the board, who must be purring that they have protected a player of such promise, and that their initial investment of around £4 million should now be ensured to return a very decent chunk of change when the time comes for the midfielder to move on. Rodgers acknowledges that one day, the promising young Frenchman will move on to even bigger and better things and recognises that aspect of the deal is vital.

In the present though, Rodgers is just delighted to be able to work with someone who embodies everything he loves in a player, as well as being the perfect example of what the club should be looking to achieve through their recruitment.

“That's the model for us,” Rodgers said. “You bring a boy like that in knowing there's a lot of development in him at 19, 20 or 21. Going forward you know there's value there. I looked at the player and saw the physical qualities he has. He had a technical idea that can be worked on and then you try and make him robust mentally.

“You know at some period in time that he'll move on. But he's loved his time here. He's improved a lot, he's got valuable game time in his legs, as well as experience.

“His new deal is great news for him and for the club. You have to future proof this type of player to make sure they're here – and at the same time you have the value of a top young talent.”

Rodgers is hoping that with Ntcham having got over his initial disappointment at close friend Moussa Dembele moving on to Lyon on the last day of the transfer window, he can use his compatriot’s example as an inspiration for what he can achieve.

“You're always a wee bit worried that when someone like Dembele leaves,” admitted Rodgers. “Ntcham, who is close to him, might think about leaving as well.

“Moussa was someone I spoke to during the process of bringing Oli here. Because he was able to sell to him everything that was happening at Celtic. So, when he lost his mate, there might have been an initial bit of flatness with his pal going, which is natural.

“But it's football and we re-assured him that it's his career. We're here to develop him and improve him. We told him that at some point he will probably go as well but it's important that he becomes the best player he can be.

“If you look at Oli's qualities, in terms of the top level of the game, it's about speed, power, technique. He's got all of those things. I said to him coming in here that he needed to add goals and he's done that. He can still add more. He can also press better. He's good at using his physicality but we aim to improve that even more.

“If he can do all of those things, he can go as high as he wants in the game. He's blessed and gifted with natural, physical attributes. So, it's about ensuring we develop that as well as the tactical side of his game.”

Rodgers revealed that there has been interest from other clubs in Ntcham since his arrival in Glasgow, all of which has been given short shrift. That was the easy part for Celtic, but the difficult bit for Rodgers was convincing his player that rejecting those offers was the right thing for him as well as the club.

“We had to circle him back in to why he came here,” he said. “They want to come here to improve, feel pressure at a big club and win things. So, you have to get back to those reasons why. They're still on a development pathway so when the time does come to leave here, they're ready to fly.

“Oli still felt there was improvements to make and it's great for the club to tie him down. Every individual player is different. They all have different aspirations of their own in their minds regarding their career. They love it here but some are on a journey. Some will want to go abroad – they don't all want to play in the Premier League. There are other top leagues that give them competition and pay them very well.

“You just try and talk through individual plans with each player and benchmark that against their ambitions when they came in.”

Meanwhile, Rodgers is looking forward to being back on familiar territory in Trondheim on Thursday night in Europa League action, as his side look for the win against Rosenborg that will keep them in the competition going into the last round of fixtures.

“We’ll stay overnight, recover well, the boys will get a good sleep after the game so it doesn’t disrupt us too much for the weekend, as opposed to coming back in the early hours of the morning,” he said. “The idea is to win the game, that’ll be our intent, to go over there and get a result that allows us to do that. We’ll then go into the last game and it’s in our hands. That would be brilliant, but we first have to do the job there.

“We’ve gone there and won before so we know how to win there and the team’s picking up a great run of form, so we just want to keep the confidence going.”