By Noel Whelan

20th Feb, 2021 | 5:00pm

Ajer is a certainty to lead Celtic exodus after 'Embarrassing' season - Whelan

Kristoffer Ajer could lead a line of first-team stars out the Celtic exit door this summer after an “embarrassing” season at Parkhead. 

That is the view of former Leeds and Aberdeen striker Noel Whelan who, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, suggested a number of players would be weighing up their contract situations in Glasgow at the end of the campaign.

As revealed by Football Insider, Celtic are still hopeful of tying Ryan Christie down to a new deal, with the 25-year-old one of several first-team players into the final 18 months of their current terms.

Club captain Scott Brown is out of contract this summer, while loanees Shane Duffy, Mohamed Elyounoussi, Diego Laxalt and Jonjoe Kenny are all set to return to their parent clubs.

Meanwhile, Christie, Ajer, Odsonne Edouard, Leigh Griffiths and Anthony Ralston are all set to see their deals expire next year, leaving Celtic in a race to get them tied up or sold this summer.

Whelan insisted the giant Norway international, 22, was a certainty to leave and suggested how many more follow him depends on how the season finishes.

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Discussing the contract situation at Parkhead, Whelan told Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge: “There were a lot of players that wanting to leave before the season even got going within that team, I think Ajer was one of the players that wanted out anyway, beginning of the season.

“I think that will be dealt with in the summertime, I don’t think he’ll be there next year, I think he’ll be gone. I think he’ll be one of those players that will be leaving.

“I think that they need freshening up, quite frankly, I think they need new faces and new players in, the new breed in but again, it all depends what happens with the manager as well.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen with Neil Lennon, we don’t know what the conversation is gonna be with the board at the end of the season and how many points they may be behind Rangers. They’re not going to win the league, that’s for sure, but I think it also depends on how embarrassing is finishing second and how many points that you’re behind.

“That will tell you what a bad season it has been and how weak the challenge has been towards Rangers this season. I think there’s lots of things that need to be taken into consideration.

“Maybe they’re thinking about, will there be a new manager there as well? All these things come into someone’s mind when you’re thinking about signing contracts.”

In other news, Alex McLeish has made a big claim about Callum McGregor staying or leaving Celtic.