NEW Bhoy Albian Ajeti, who completed his £5million switch from West Ham yesterday, has revealed he once rejected the opportunity to join Barcelona.
The 23-year-old Swiss international striker couldn’t knock back Neil Lennon, but he did snub the Catalan giants as a teenager.
Ajeti and his twin brother Adonis spent a few days at the Nou Camp, but decided to further their career at the Basel Academy.
The hitman who scored 37 goals in two years with the Swiss outfit before his £8million move to the Hammers 13 months ago told the Daily Record: “Yes, Barcelona wanted me and my twin brother when we were 16.
“They were interested in signing the both of us. It wasn’t a trial, but we went over for a couple of days and were shown around the Barcelona academy and trained with them.
“But, in the end, we decided to stay in Switzerland. People say it’s hard to say no to Barcelona, but not at that age, to be fair. When you are young you want to be with your family, with your brothers and friends, so it wasn’t that hard to say no.
“My brother was keen to do it, but we decided to keep going with what we were doing in Switzerland.
“It worked out well for us.”
After completing the four-year deal, Ajeti remarked: “For me, it was important that the boss, Neil Lennon, and the sporting director, Nick Hammond, showed me a lot of interest.
“It was also important for me to feel like I would be an important player if I was going to sign for as big a club such as Celtic.
“This was important. But when you have a chance to play for them, with all the tradition they have and the history of this football club and the fans they have, I am happy.”
Ajeti is now looking forward to linking up with former Basel team-mate Mohamed Elyounoussi, who, of course, completed a second loan switch from Southampton in the summer.
He said: “I know Moi and obviously we had a chat as he tried to get me to sign for Celtic.
“It wasn’t needed, though. I didn’t need to be persuaded to sign for such a big club. We spoke more about the city and the life here in Glasgow.”
Reflecting on his season in London which saw him fail to score a goal in 12 appearances for Davie Moyes’ side, Ajeti added: “It was a good experience. I would say this was a year of learning, of improving mentally.
“I didn’t play as much as I expected, so it was a year of learning. It is not always easy to sign for a football club when there are changes like we had last year at West Ham (with Moyes replacing Manuel Pellegrini).
“It’s hard to say because you don’t know what could have happened. I just think the work I did there was good, but every manager has different system of football and you have to understand it because not everyone is the same.
“It is always hard for a new manager to get the best out of the team. This is football.”
“But it is how it is and I am happy to be at Celtic.”