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Why Celtic can't afford to lose Kristoffer Ajer just yet

David Walton July 10, 2020
Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer has made the headlines this week as he is reportedly on AC Milan’s radar this summer (Scottish Sun).

Indeed, the Scottish Sun believes that the Hoops value Ajer at around £20million. Milan, under new boss Ralf Rangnick, certainly have that kind of cash to burn if they feel the deal is worth it.

But this just doesn’t look like the kind of deal Celtic should be ready to accept just yet. Sure, the prospect of another £20m coming into the Parkhead coffers reads well. Especially for a player who was hardly error-free last season.

However, Celtic hardly have the talent available in their ranks to cover for Ajer if he departs. With Jozo Simunovic leaving the club earlier this summer, Neil Lennon only has Ajer, Christopher Jullien, and Nir Bitton available to operate comfortably at centre-back. Hatem Abd Elhamed can also play in that position, but he looks more suited to operating at right-back.

Outside of the players mentioned, Celtic also have Jack Hendry. But who can honestly say they would be satisfied with the former Dundee man returning to the fold?

Sure, the £20m or whatever Celtic get for Ajer should be enough to cover for new recruits – and a couple of them too. After all, Jullien, the best defender at the club, was bought for only £7m from Toulouse last season. The talent is out there (The Herald).

Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

Clubs will know Celtic need centre-backs

The problem is that clubs will know how desperate Celtic will be to get centre-backs in the door. With a league season that starts in around three weeks’ time, Lennon will want a squad assembled before then.

Knowing that the club needs two solid centre-backs to cover for summer losses will put the Hoops at a disadvantage. Clubs could be in a position to push their prices up for their players if Celtic come calling, as they’ll be clued in as to how much the club needs them.

Celtic will be all too aware of whether Milan are serious or not regarding Ajer. If they are, the club must act smartly. Two new recruits simply have to be signed before they can even think about letting the Norwegian leave.

If that doesn’t happen, Celtic will be at a disadvantage in terms of both transfer negotiations and the lack of defensive quality in their squad.

In almost every piece I right, there’s one constant – that urge not to risk 10-in-a-row for a quick buck. But I’ll always say it, and even then I won’t ever be able to stress it enough. Celtic could sell Ajer for £100m, but if the 10 was lost fans would be fuming regardless.

The last nine years have built up to this very campaign. No risks should be taken. Yet unless two new centre-backs are brought in, losing Kristoffer Ajer for any quantity of cash would be just that.

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David is a keen writer who's always looking to engage readers in his content. He has a strong knowledge of Scottish and English football - writing content on the Scottish game since the beginning of his studies in 2014.