Celtic have always been known for creating talents that impressed in European elite teams. The Scottish grand always knew how to select a proper footballer for the team and this trend continues.
In recent years such a player for Celtic became Norwegian Kristoffer Ajer, who is simply a central figure in Celtic’s defence. Some even call him a new Virgil Van Dijk. Of course, there is a long path for the Norwegian to compare him to Van Dijk, but there are some similarities. Physically strong and agile Ajer is not afraid of “famous names” and he has become a stalwart not only for Celtic but the Norwegian national team as well.
Start, Celtic and Path to Becoming a Leader
Ajer made his professional debut for Norwegian Start, playing 52 matches for the team and scoring nine goals. The tall youngster caught the attention of Scottish Celtic, as physicality, ability to fight for every ball and playing well with your head are great for the Scottish league.
Since 2016, with a short break from loan at Kilmarnock (in 2017 he amassed 16 matches), Kristoffer Ajer has been playing for Celtic. Kristoffer was positioned as a midfielder who was not afraid to support the team’s attack and liked to control the ball. The Norwegian’s idol was the legendary Patrick Vieira, whose game he was inspired by.
During his time in the team, Kristoffer became the champion of Scotland three times, twice the winner of the Scottish Cup and the winner of the Scottish League Cup three times.
In recent years he only made progress. At some point, he attracted attention from European teams and actually, Milan showed a lot of interest, but he decided to stay with Celtic. We should also mention that due to his growing popularity even Norwegian betting companies, known as bettingselskaper among local residents, started to feature him on various bonuses. It may seem strange but if we take a look at the gambling industry in Norway, they always try to promote young talents as much as possible. We have seen such examples in the case of Haaland, Odegaard and Sander Berge as well. So considering the fact that we are witnessing a golden generation of Norwegian football, the country tries to make them popular as much as possible.
Ajer’s personal stats for this season’s Scottish league are as follows: 90 matches and 4 goals. The most likely career extension for Ajer is a classic move to the English premier league or any European elite team but Kristoffer still needs to gain experience to play in the English Premier League
Comparison to Van Dijk
In Scotland, Kristoffer Ajer has flourished. He’s already been compared to Van Dijk.
Suddenly, Scottish Celtic turned into another forge of football talents. The club not only dominates the domestic arena, winning the Championship and Scottish Cups year after year but also developing young players, then selling them for a decent price to the top clubs. Victor Wanyama, Moussa Dembele, Kieran Tierney and Virgil van Dijk have grown up here.
Right now, Celtic have three players: forward Odsonne Edouard, midfielder Olivier Ntcham and Norwegian defender Kristoffer Ajer
In 2017, Ajer returned to Norway to complete his studies and take a driving test. As soon as the Norwegian returned to the team, he met with the new Celtic coach Brendan Rodgers. The coach saw in Kristoffer the makings of a central defender, so he began to adopt him in this position at the team training camp. After Rodgers left for Leicester, new coach Neil Lennon was also impressed with the Norwegian and described his injury against Lille as a huge blow.
It should be noted that Ajer constantly impresses everyone with his ability to work with the ball, as well as the calmness required by any self-respecting centre-back. Beginning with the 18/19 season, Ajer is an undisputed player of the foundation, progressing with each match. He is tall, strong, fast and agile. And he’s only 22 years old, which is still very young for a defender
Many assume that Ajer will repeat Van Dijk’s path. He is very reminiscent of the Dutchman with his style of play and dimensions. It is possible that in the near future, Kristoffer will become the leader of the defence of a top club in the Premier League, for example, Leicester, who are now coached by Brendan Rodgers.