CELTIC will NOT be tempted to sell Kristoffer Ajer for a bargain fee although it is almost certain the Norwegian will quit the club in the summer.
The 23-year-old international centre-back, who was valued in the £20million region this time last year, is an £8million target for Newcastle United, according to a report in the Daily Mail.
That sort of offer is hardly likely to persuade the Hoops to part with the utility defender who will be out of contract in 12 months’ time.
The fallen champions realise they will not receive the sort of money they could have accepted last summer when former boss Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester City and San Siro giants AC Milan were displaying an interest. However, the club’s hierarchy decided to hold onto their hottest properties with Odsonne Edouard and Ryan Christie also on the radar of clubs waiting to pounce.
THE HISTORY BHOY…Kristoffer Ajer thumps the winning penalty-kick past Hearts keeper Craig Gordon for the winning goal in the Scottish Cup Final shoot-out – the goal that brought the phenomenal quadruple treble.
However, with the opportunity to clinch the historic tenth successive title, Celtic resisted all bids for their top stars. Unfortunately, their stance was not rewarded and after a dire campaign, the club completed their first trophyless term in 11 years.
St James’s Park gaffer Steve Bruce will now test the Hoops’ resolve with a low valuation which will prove to be a waste of everyone’s time.
Ajer’s former club insisted on a “significant” sell-on clause in the skyscraper defender’s contract, as CQN revealed in June last year.
The player was signed by his countryman Ronny Delia from IK Start for £650,000 in 2016 and changed his agent last year after sacking his long-time adviser Tor Pedersen when transfer speculation became rife.
Former club director Ogrey Brandsdal admitted: “When we sold him to Celtic, we were also in a very tight financial position and that made the negotiations very pressurised.
ON TARGET…Odsonne Edouard, watched by David Turnbull, nets the winner against Aberdeen in February.
“But from the very first moment we saw Kristoffer, we knew he would be playing in the top leagues one day.
“So, although we needed the money urgently, we sacrificed some of it, so we could add the significant sell-on clause. We took a long-term view of his career.”
It has not been revealed just how much the Norwegian outfit can expect from the transfer of their ex-player, but the factor will be copied in by the Parkhead chiefs when they consider any offers for Ajer.
It is now known that Paris Saint-Germain inserted a whopping 50 per cent sell-on in the terms of Edouard when he joined the Parkhead men for a club record £9million in June 2018, as CQN reported last week.
Like Ajer, the 23-year-old French striker is likely to have kicked his last ball for the Glasgow club while playmaker Christie will be allowed to talk to interested clubs next month with his deal due to expire in January next year. Allowing terms to run down in the middle of a season was not someone at the club’s best work.
A LOT TO PONDER…Ryan Christie looks aghast as he passes up an opportunity against Aberdeen at Pittodrie.
The 25-year-old midfielder had a disappointing and erratic campaign for Celtic, but he knows good performances for Scotland in the Euros next month against the Czech Republic, England and Croatia will see his value soar. A deal could be struck before the Champions League qualifiers in July or the Highlander could run down his contract and leave on a free at the turn of the year.
Tyneside boss Bruce will argue he does not have a lot in his summer transfer kitty – a figure of £12million has been reported – and will have a problem persuading owner Mike Ashley to increase his budget.
As well as Ajer, the Geordie gaffer has his sights on Wigan striker Kyle Joseph who is on Celtic’s wanted list as CQN have reported throughout the season.
At the end of the scale, while Bruce will offer a measly £8million for Ajer, he has slapped an extraordinary £70million price tag on the head of his French winger Allan Saint-Maximin.
Celtic are unlikely to entertain such a move for Ajer – especially with his former club awaiting a cash windfall when he does eventually leave Parkhead.