Former Kilmarnock boss Lee Clark has urged Kristoffer Ajer to stay on with the Hoops beyond this season as the club look to do a rebuild.
Clark was the man who took Ajer from Celtic for six months at Rugby Park where the defender really got to know the physical side of the game before coming back to Celtic.
Since then, Ajer has emerged as a leader and a passionate guy, but he’s also ambitious and the worry is, Celtic will have no choice but to sell the Norweigan international when at the end of this season.
Kristoffer’s current deal has just over a year to run and while the club could keep him for another season, it wouldn’t make financial sense to let the centre-back go for nothing in 12 months time.
Clark would like to see a day where Celtic can match the ambitions of their best players and aim for Europe, in the meantime, he urges the quadruple treble champions to try everything they can to tie the player down to a new contract. However, he mentions a Newcastle interest in the defender.
“Kris has got all the attributes to play at the very top and I’m not surprised when I see him linked with the biggest clubs in Europe, whether that’s down here in England or Italy” Clark told RecordSport.
“I know different clubs have been mentioned so it’s massive for Celtic to tie him down but it’s difficult because players naturally want to play Serie A or the Premier League.
“I just hope they can get to the level where they can be competitive in the Champions League and keep a hold of the likes of Kris Ajer.
“He’s been linked with Newcastle United in some north east media outlets!
“So with my Newcastle United fans head on I hope that happens! My mates have all been asking me about him since he was mentioned and I told them if it comes off we’ll be getting a real top player.
“But I’m not sure we’re in the market for a player of his value with the money that would be involved to land a player of his ability.
“I played with Darren Peacock who was similar in terms of size but he was more of an old-school centre half, physical and strong and Kris Ajer is more in the mould of his partners Steve Howey and Philippe Albert who were ball-playing defenders.
“He has turned into an excellent, accomplished centre back for a huge club like Celtic and obviously the Norwegian international team.”
Ultimately, it will come down to Kristoffer and his representatives. Celtic need to make their case and look at making the player one of the better paid players in the squad. Newcastle appears like a toxic place at the moment.
There’s big money coming off the wage bill this summer, so there’s scope to make Ajer an offer he can’t refuse.