Why Kristoffer Ajer to Man United would be a smart long-term investment
According to a report by The Scotsman, Manchester United have been credited with an interest in Celtic star Kristoffer Ajer, with the Red Devils keen on continuing their policy of recruiting bright emerging talents to build a strong platform for the future.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has kept his philosophy of building a team around young and developing players no secret and United have now set their sights on Kristoffer Ajer, who is widely regarded as one of the best young centre-backs north of the border in the Scottish top-flight.
Having spent millions of pounds on top homegrown prospects like Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the summer as a part of Solskjaer’s youthful squad overhaul, the Red Devils are apparently looking to push on for more signings in January following a disappointing start to the campaign.
Unimpressive returns from their games so far have marked one of the worst ever starts to a season in the club’s history and Solskjaer clearly has his work cut out in guiding the Red Devils to a respectable finish, let alone a place in the top-four.
Those numbers are really worrying for the fans. Besides investing in quality young talent for the future, United really need to bring in some immediate game-changers in January if they are to resurrect their campaign.
Meanwhile, Kristoffer Ajer has gone from strength to strength over the past couple of campaigns following his move to Celtic from Norwegian club Start back in 2016.
The 21-year-old has established himself as one of the best in his position in the entire division and his meteoric rise is beginning to attract admiring glances from big clubs south of the border in England.
The 12-cap Norwegian international, who has been one of the mainstays for Celtic at the heart of the defence for quite some time now, boasts of 98 appearances for the Hoops across all competitions and it would be fair to say that Ajer has a really good CV for a centre-back aged just 21.
Standing at 6ft.6 inches with a gigantic frame, Ajer has proven himself to be a tailor-made fit for the rough and tough style of play prevalent in Scotland, whilst his maturity in terms of decision-making, as well as his technical abilities on the ball, have also caught the eye.
To put things into perspective, Man United are not in dire need of bringing in central defensive reinforcements in January following the record arrival of Harry Maguire from Leicester City in the summer but Kristoffer Ajer could be a smart long-term investment for the club, nonetheless.
The Red Devils have shipped only 9 goals in 8 league games so far this term, which is a notable improvement on their numbers from the previous campaign.
Despite Victor Lindelof blowing hot and cold, Maguire’s commanding presence has gone a long way towards shoring up a brittle backline but United can still do with a new young centre-back in January, with question marks lingering over the futures of Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo.
Smalling’s illustrious spell at Old Trafford is apparently nearing its end, with the 29-year-old currently out on loan at Roma in the Serie A. Eric Bailly is expected to leave for free next summer unless United manage to find a potential suitor for him in January, which really looks very unlikely.
Phil Jones, though a very reliable defender when fit and running, seems to have lost the trust of the management due to his repeated struggles with injuries over the years, while Marcos Rojo is closing in on an exit in the near future after proving himself to be an impetuous defender with a patchy injury record.
Hence, United still have some big decisions to make as far as their central defensive options are concerned and moving on some of the unwanted stars is the need of the hour.
It is simply a waste to have so many centre-backs competing for two places every week and it is imperative to say that they need to free up space for someone like Ajer to arrive as a long-term prospect.
With Maguire and Lindelof expected to be the first-choice pairing under Solskjaer for the foreseeable future, the manager would be able to gradually ease an up and coming player like Ajer into action if a move to the Premier League does materialize for the Norwegian in the near future.
Kristoffer Ajer still has some way to go before he is ready to establish himself as a regular for a club of Man United’s stature but he is, indeed, a player with massive potential who could evolve into a stalwart in the years to come if he continues his development in the right direction.
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The 21-year-old has all the raw materials to play in the Premier League but he needs to cut out the rough edges in his game and that is not going to be overly difficult for him as his career wears on.
All in all, Ajer’s union with his compatriot Solskjaer at Old Trafford could be beneficial for all parties involved.