Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Celtic Consider Swap Deal With AC Milan For Services Of Uruguayan Star: Smart Move For Lennon?

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Nikhil Vinodh
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According to a recent report by the Daily Record, Premiership giants Celtic are said to be considering a swap deal in an attempt to keep the services of talented Uruguayan full-back Diego Laxalt. The report suggests that the Celtic player in question is prodigious Norwegian centre-half Kristoffer Ajer, with the Serie A club’s long-standing interest in the defender a well-established fact. The two clubs’ interest could well be aligned on the matter, with discussions touted to start when they meet at the San Siro next week.

Although the report has clarified that Celtic could consider swapping Kristoffer Ajer for Diego Laxalt, whether or not this is a move that benefits the club is the first question that comes to mind. Neil Lennon had previously admitted that he would like to keep the Uruguayan at the club beyond the end of his loan tenure, but also admitted that it was still ‘early days’. Ajer’s current contract with the Parkhead side is set to run until 2022, which means that they could demand a decent transfer fee on top of the swap. However, if Leicester City’s former interest is rekindled, then that could prove to be a better deal.

What Makes Kristoffer Ajer So Important?

The Hoops’ defensive concerns since the start of the current season have been no secret. The acquisition of Shane Duffy on loan from Brighton seemed like a smart and shrewd piece of business on paper, but as it turned out, he has been unable to settle into life in Scotland. The Irishman has been making mistake after mistake every time he started, which is probably what tempted the manager into moving him down the pecking order with Nir Bitton replacing him in the team. Even with the makeshift centre-half in place, if it wasn’t for the presence of Ajer, things could’ve easily gone south for Celtic.

Celtic Could Consider Swapping Kristoffer Ajer For Diego Laxalt - Ajer smiles
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – AUGUST 02: Kristoffer Ajer of Celtic looks on during the Ladbrokes Premiership match between Celtic and Hamilton Academical at Celtic Park Stadium on August 02, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The Norwegian is a tall and strong defender, who isn’t afraid to put his body on the line for the sake of the team. Despite his tender age, Ajer offers a dominant physical presence inside the box, while his voice is strong enough to command the rest of the back-line as well. Although Celtic fans will be hoping that Duffy makes a return to form in the coming weeks, it doesn’t mean that he can replace Ajer in the team. Taking Ajer out of the equation would put them in a dire situation at the back, and the number of goals they concede per match is sure to rise in such a case as well.

Is Diego Laxalt Worth Selling Kristoffer Ajer For?

The Uruguayan has taken to life at Celtic like a duck to water, as he has immediately come in and displaced Greg Taylor as the first-choice left-back in the team. While it must be conceded that he isn’t the best defender in the world by any stretch of the imagination, his attacking play has been right up there. Capable of getting up and down the pitch with ease as per requirement, the Milan loanee is a good dribbler of the ball as well. What makes his stand out from Taylor though, is undoubtedly his amazing ability to play pinpoint crosses into the box from wide.

Celtic Could Consider Swapping Kristoffer Ajer For Diego Laxalt: Should Lennon Do It?

If there’s one issue in the roster that Celtic should look to address first, then it is undoubtedly in defence. As good as Laxalt has been since the start of the season, it’s worth taking into account that his defensive contributions would’ve been useless had it not been for the presence of Ajer in the back-line. With Neil Lennon’s side are hoping to compete with Rangers, who themselves have conceded just three goals in the Premiership all season, ensuring that the Hoops have a solid back-line is going to be of the utmost importance. While there’s no denying that Laxalt is a clear upgrade on Taylor, Ajer’s importance to the team is just exponentially higher.

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