Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer has signed a new four-year contract with the club that sees him extend his stay with the Scottish champions at least until the summer of 2022, a report from BBC has confirmed.
The 20-year-old centre-half has been one of the biggest positives of the 2017/18 season for Brendan Rodgers’ side and has firmly established himself as a mainstay in the backline for the Hoops.
Having joined the club back in the summer of 2016 from Norwegian outfit IK Start, Ajer featured only once for the senior team, which was in a UEFA Champions League qualifier game against Lincoln Red Imps, before being shipped out on loan to Kilmarnock in the winter window.
The defender went on to make 17 appearances for the Killies before returning to the Parkhead at the end of the 2016/17 campaign.
In the recently concluded 2017/18 campaign, the Norwegian international made 33 appearances across all competitions for Celtic and has been extremely impressive, to say the least. The 20-year old has displayed the maturity that belies his young age and has easily been their best centre-half, ahead of his more experienced teammates like Dedryck Boyata, Jozo Simunovic etc.
Standing at 1.96m tall, the two-time capped Norwegian international cuts a fairly imposing figure at the back and has demonstrated good situation reading abilities and game awareness. He has maintained a level of consistency throughout the season.
The youngster has also shown that he isn’t fazed by the big occasions, putting in some solid displays in high-profile encounters.
However, the facet of his game that stands out the most has to be his ball-playing ability. The calmness and confidence with which he carries the ball out from the back and distributes it accurately have been exceptional and it perfectly fits the kind of footballing philosophy that Rodgers wants to establish at the Celtic Park.
Be it in a three-man backline or as a part of a traditional four-man defence, Ajer has looked quite comfortable, highlighting his intelligence and ability to adapt to different tactical situations. There is plenty of work for him to do in order to grow into a defensive stalwart and there is still a lot of polishing to be done, without a doubt.
However, there is no question about the fact Ajer is a fine, young prospect with great promise and potential.
This is exactly why Celtic nailing down him at the club with a longer contract is great news for the club, especially given the fact that some of the European heavyweights like Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham Hotspur had been monitoring the youngster over the possibility of a potential summer move.