If a recent report from the Daily Mail is believed to be true, Celtic might suffer a massive transfer blow with Newcastle United targetting a summer swoop for defender Kristoffer Ajer. The Norwegian would be a free agent next year with no news of contract extension so far from the Hoops’ camp.
The Magpies would make a cut-price offer of around £8m if they manage to retain their top-flight status. They are only two points clear of the drop zone and have failed to grab a victory in their past six Premier League outings (3L 3D) prior to the ongoing international break. Escaping relegation must be the topmost priority, however, the planning of reconstruction should continue behind the scenes in order to improve the show in a firm and steady manner.
Ajer has recently been criticized for his erroneous display against Turkey where he was at fault for two of the three goals conceded by Norway. Gaffer Stale Solbakken backed the 22-year-old but advised the youngster to move elsewhere from Scotland in order to grow his game a week ago. The defender, too, would welcome a new opportunity after 170 Celtic appearances and his flexibility across the backline should see him attuning to various set-ups if a transfer takes place.
How Ajer Would Help Newcastle United Defensively
Newcastle have quite a few central defensive options in their ranks. Skipper Jamaal Lascelles remains a towering figure, but the persistent injury woes troubled him all throughout the ongoing term. Fabian Schar is sidelined for months after enduring a knee strain against Southampton, whereas the likes of Ciaran Clark, Paul Dummett and Federico Fernandez have been underwhelming of late as they failed to cement a starting status in deep defence.
Ajer began his career in the middle of the park but was shifted to defensive third by then Bhoys boss Brendan Rodgers. His aerial dominance, as well as the sense of positioning, helped him settle in instantly as a centre-half. His ball-playing traits, timely interceptions and overlapping runs depict all the features of a modern-day defender and his arrival would see the Magpies have an alternative game plan.
Celtic have also deployed Ajer as a right fullback. His strong runs, passing range, smart link-up play, crosses and cut insides showcased the creative spark high up the pitch and the Hoops, thus, must make a decision now and accept a suitable offer rather than losing him for free a year later.