Celtic yesterday completed the signing of Kristoffer Ajer from Start for £800,000. Here’s all you need to know about the Norwegian wonderkid
He’s very young (17) and incredibly tall (6ft 5in)
Celtic fans pining for someone to immediately improve their team may be a little disappointed. Ajer looks set to be another project for Ronny Deila (or potentially his successor) to work on improving.
However, there is plenty to work with and, with a little patience, he could become a star at Celtic Park. Not only is Ajer technically good, he also towers over his opponents at a height of 6ft 5in. You can’t teach such physical advantages and if he can bulk out, which should naturally occur as he ages, then he’ll be a destroyer on the field.
He’s Norwegian football’s youngest ever captain
What immediately leaps out about Ajer is his qualities as a person. He may be 17 years old but he certainly doesn’t act like it. He’s mature, intelligent and already speaks better English than most of the Celtic side he’ll be joining.
Start team-mates and onlookers have raved about his qualities as a captain. He is already a leader among men despite still barely qualifying as an adult. These traits encouraged Start to make him captain of the team at just 16.
This Celtic team has been criticised for their soft underbelly, particularly on European nights. While he may not be able to help much with that next season, in the long run he’s exactly the type of person Celtic will want to reverse that trend.
He’ll likely develop to become a centre back
Ajer has spent time at the No.10 position with Start, but it’s expected that Celtic will use him further back and may even look to develop him as a defender in the long run. He doesn’t quite have the technique to dislodge Stefan Johansen or Tom Rogic (or even back-ups like Ryan Christie and Scott Allan) from the attacking midfielder role, while Celtic will hesitant using him in defence immediately due to his wiry frame. So, when we do see him next season, he’ll likely be deputising for either Scott Brown or Nir Bitton at the defensive midfield role.
However, once he grows into that 6ft 5in frame of his, it’s likely he’ll be used as a centre half. If he can learn the position and learn it well, then he could truly become a top class talent there, since he’s already completely comfortable on the football. It’s also the natural position for a leader on the field to operate in.
He’s finishing school before starting his Celtic career
Ajer is not joining Celtic until the summer. In the meantime, he’ll return to Norway for the beginning of the Tippeligaen (Norway’s premier league) and finish his school studies. He’ll also take sit his driving test before moving to Glasgow.
He’s just completed a £800,000, four-year move, but his feet are remaining completely on the ground. Most Scottish players in similar circumstances would likely plan no further ahead than a night on the town with eight pints and five Jagerbombs.
His girlfriend is an emerging handball player
When initial rumours of Ajer to Celtic first surfaced, it was dismissed by some who felt he wouldn’t wish to move away from girlfriend Karoline Olsen, who is an emerging handball player. It’s a professional sport in Norway, which is why she won’t be joining her partner in Glasgow unless Scotland suddenly establishes a league overnight.
Whether this causes any distraction for the player down the line remains to be seen. However, at present, he seems thoroughly delighted to have joined Celtic and is enthusiastic about developing his career in Scotland.
• Research was assisted by Christian Wulff. Follow him on Twitter @aHellofaBeating
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