Not content with landing vaunted Man City academy midfielder Patrick Roberts on an 18-month loan, Celtic have further bolstered their young crop of centre-circle dwellers by signing 17-year-old Norwegian Kristoffer Ajer on a free transfer.
The IK Start player penned a four-year deal and will move to Glasgow in June following a successful trail with the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership giants in January.
His arrival will add to a swollen belly in Ronny Deila’s roster, which the BBC points out could be as large as 22 next season should no players leave.
With such intense competition for places at Celtic Park, Ajer could well find himself marked as a development project by the time he rocks up in the summer. It would be a significant change from the role he currently plays at Start.
Despite his tender years, the midfielder has played a key role in the Kristiansand club’s first team for two campaigns.
Last year, he featured in all 30 of the side’s Tippeligaen games. He scored eight goals and registering four assists in that time.
His efforts rated as one of the better hauls as Start struggled throughout the season, only avoiding relegation via a playoff victoy.
Playing such a prominent role in adversity says plenty about Ajer’s character, but in the same campaign the teenager was even given the added responsibility of captaining the side in two games. He became Start’s youngest leader as a result. Clearly, he has maturity beyond his years.
Able to play in a traditional central midfield role as well as either of the number 10 or anchorman offshoots, Ajer could well muscle his way into Celtic’s first-team plans right away. Deila is obviously a big fan, having recommended the Bhoys tie their target down to a long-term deal following his trial.
Although Start are in their off-season, Ajer will remain with them until the summer but has already spoken gushingly at the prospect of moving to Scotland.
“I can’t wait to start here at Celtic and just develop as a player. Time will show how quickly I get into the first-team squad. I need to prove myself, to develop and to be good in training and any playing time I get. Hopefully I will play a lot. That is my goal,” he said.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.