Kristoffer Ajer is going to be a fantastic player. You can tell watching him.
He has good awareness, he is big and he’s strong. And he’s only 18. I love this kid. He’s got so much to offer Celtic, and I have no doubt whatsoever that he will develop into someone who’ll cement a first team place and it will take something special to shift him.
He will probably leave Celtic in January, on loan. A lot of the people who go out on loan never come back; they get lost out there, at their new clubs, and it just stalls. Far from impressing enough to make their way home again, they find the last door closing.
That’s not going to happen with this guy. Ajer will return. He will fulfil his promise.
Kristoffer has already done more in his career than a lot of 18 year olds.
He was only fifteen when he played his first professional game and he was the youngest player ever to captain a side in the Norwegian league at just sixteen. He signed for Celtic knowing he was giving up first team football for a while, knowing it would take time to get games.
He moved abroad, and he took a huge career risk, at a time when he might have stayed put and just played it safe for a couple more years.
The respect we should have for him for that … wow.
That’s why I think he’d turn down any permanent move he was offered at the end of the loan – and why he might actually turn down a loan move in the first place. He will opt to come back to Celtic and do what we signed him to do, to play a role at our club.
He has played extremely well for the B team whenever I’ve seen him, and in pre-season he was deployed in central defence where he didn’t look flustered or out of place. It is a great irony that he plays in the midfield holding position where we’re so short at the moment we’ve had to deploy Callum McGregor; I don’t regard that as a statement on Ajer’s ability or his mentality. It would not help us to throw him in at the deep end.
But it will come.
In the meantime, what he needs are games and so a loan deal would be an excellent move. It would be quite something to see him stay in Scotland; Hibs would be the obvious choice, as they play a high tempo style of football and are run by Neil Lennon, who will know how important it is – and how tough – to develop to the Celtic level. No-one would be a better influence, especially as Neil played in a similar part of the pitch.
Hibs fans needn’t worry about that scenario. They’d be getting a fantastic footballer, capable of driving their promotion bid onwards. If this move is possible they should grab it, so should Celtic and so should Kristoffer Ajer.
We will see him again.