Celtic could quite easily cash in on Kristoffer Ajer, who has been attracting admiring glances from down south and overseas, in the January transfer window and make a tidy profit on their initial £650,000 investment if a suitable bid is forthcoming.
They have done it very successfully on numerous occasions with the young players they have, such as the Norwegian internationalist, brought in for nominal fees and developed over several seasons.
The 21-year-old has been linked with AC Milan, Leicester City and Southampton in the first half of the 2019-20 campaign due to the quality of his play both domestically and in Europe.
In time, the centre-half will almost certainly follow the well-trodden paths taken by players such as Moussa Dembele, Fraser Forster, Ki Sung-yueng, Virgil van Dijk, inset, and Victor Wanyama by either moving to England or abroad.
Yet, with the Parkhead club bidding to win a ninth consecutive Scottish title this term their fans would storm the directors’ box if Ajer was let go now, even for a substantial fee.
Nothing could have been further from the 6ft 6in defender’s mind this week than his long-term future as he pushed himself in punishing training sessions on Celtic’s winter break in Dubai.
Improving further as a footballer and helping Neil Lennon’s team recover from their Parkhead defeat by Rangers at the end of December and maintaining their domestic dominance in the coming months is all that is occupying his mind.
“I’m really happy now,” he said. “I’ve got two and a half years in Celtic and I’m happy with it. I love playing for Celtic. All talk of contracts is between my agent and the club and I’m just concentrated on day-to-day work and trying to be the best footballer I can.
“I’m not fussed about speculation. I’m happy here and want me and the club to have a fantastic next six months coming up. This is a great place to be. I really wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
“I try as much as I can to disconnect from everything except the football,” he said. “That’s one of the main things for all of the players and why we have been so successful in recent years. We keep the noise outside away and just try to focus on the football.
“It’s the same for every big club. It’s important to just stay and develop your side of the game and think about what you can do better. I stay disconnected from what is said outside of the park and don’t really want to comment on anything else. Our job is to play football and try to win games.
“I’ve got a great family, friends and girlfriend. She doesn’t know much about football, so it’s nice to go home and not talk about tactics or the physical part of the game. It’s important to be focused as a footballer when you train and play, but also to be able not to think about football sometimes. It’s a nice balance to have.”
Ajer has established himself as an important and influential player in the Celtic first team despite his tender years, but the Scandinavian balks at suggestions he is now a senior member of the Scottish champions’ side.
“There are so many experienced players here who have achieved way more than me, so I know my place in the team,” he said. “I know what the experienced players want from the young players coming through and we are just trying to do the best we can.
“I wouldn’t band myself as that (big player in the team). That would be for others. I wouldn’t compare myself to Broony (Scott Brown). He’s a legend and I’m just a 21-year-old coming from Norway. There’s no comparison or anywhere near it. There’s a togetherness in the group which is really important. It is what makes us strong.”