If Ajer exits, Celtic should look no further than signing this Serbian U21 powerhouse

Why Celtic should move for Strahinja Pavlovic if Kristoffer Ajer departs

According to a report from Football Scotland during the summer transfer window, Celtic had been credited with an interest in Partizan Belgrade centre-back Strahinja Pavlovic.

Despite scouting the youngster several times during the Europa League qualifiers (h/t Football Scotland), the reigning Scottish champions opted to turn their focus elsewhere in a bid to bolster their backline. 

Celtic then went on to complete deals for Hatem Abd Elhamed, Christopher Jullien, Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo, Greg Taylor and Jemerie Frimpong, while Moritz Bauer also came through the door on loan from Stoke City.

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Strahinja Pavlovic has been making waves with his incredible rise at Partizan (Getty Images)

Fast-forwarding the sequence of events to November, the summer recruits have made a positive impact.

Jullien has arguably been the pick of the defenders so far, with the Frenchman justifying his inclusion in the playing XI as an undisputed starter with several commanding displays at the heart of the defence.

Kristoffer Ajer has struggled occasionally in the Europa League but the Norwegian starlet continues to be one of the mainstays of Celtic’s defence alongside Jullien.

Despite the injury to Jozo Simunovic, the Hoops haven’t really had any major headaches so far, with Jullien and Ajer forming a formidable central defensive pairing and Elhamed illustrating the versatility to play both as a right-back and a centre-back. 

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The 18-year-old had been linked with a move to Celtic back in the summer (Getty Images)

Suffice to say, Celtic seem to have overcome their defensive problems, following the departure of several established defenders in the summer.

According to a recent report from The Sun, former manager Brendan Rodgers, who is now in charge of Leicester City, has identified Kristoffer Ajer as a long-term replacement for Harry Maguire, who completed a big-money move to Man United in the summer. 

Although the Foxes are yet to firm up their interest in the 21-year-old, Celtic could find themselves in a big hole if the Norwegian international is eventually lured away from Parkhead. 

Ajer is one of the key players at the club and while they should prioritise holding on to his services, Celtic might eventually have to succumb to the financial muscle of the top-flight clubs south of the border. 

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Kristoffer AJer has been linked with a big-money move to Leicester City (Getty Images)

To that end, reigniting interest in Partizan Belgrade’s Strahinja Pavlovic could be a masterstroke for the Hoops, given that the 18-year-old looks like a player in the same mould as Ajer.

The Norwegian was a young and raw teenager bursting with talent when Celtic bought him three years back and Pavlovic, who is currently making waves with his impressive displays in the Serbian top-flight, seems like a big talent with loads of potential. 

Having guided Partizan to the Serbian Cup title in his debut season at the senior professional level the last term, Strahinja Pavlovic has taken his game to the next level with his solid run of form in the UEFA Europa League in the ongoing campaign. 

Verdict

The 18-year-old Serbian U21 international has established himself as an undisputed starter for Partizan in the domestic league, racking up 13 appearances so far, while also putting in impressive shits at the back against Astana and Man United in Europe. 

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Credits: Getty Images

Standing at 6ft. 4 inches with a towering frame, Pavlovic is round about the same height as Ajer. 

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As per whoscored, the 18-year-old averages 55 passes at an accuracy rate of 81.8, including 4.7 long balls, 3 aerial duels, 1 tackle, 2 interceptions and 2 clearances per game in the Europa League group stages, figures which speak volumes of his well-rounded attributes as a commanding central defender in the making. 

With that in mind, Celtic should not hesitate to go back in the market for his services should Kristoffer Ajer complete a move elsewhere in the upcoming transfer windows. 

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Written by Sayan Chatterjee

A Premier League enthusiast and an avid follower of the beautiful game... keen eye for tactical battles and love to discuss the financial aspects of football...other hobbies include reading, listening to music, playing FIFA on PlayStation, traveling, etc.
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