By Wayne Veysey

20th Jan, 2017 | 9:06am

How plug was pulled on Celtic midfielder transfer

By Alex Stevens

Celtic emerging star Kristoffer Ajer snubbed a January transfer to England because the club want to develop him as a centre-back.

Ajer has revealed to Norwegian television that he could have moved to an English lower league outfit this month but the Scottish Premiership leaders are keen for him to learn how to play in central defence.

The 18-year-old joined the club last summer as a central midfielder but Brendan Rodgers and his staff believe he is better equipped to be a centre-back.

Rodgers revealed on Thursday that Ajer will now spend the rest of the season on loan at top flight relegation battlers Kilmarnock.

Speaking to Norwegian station TV2 on Thursday night, the teenager explained why the plug was pulled on a transfer down south.

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I had the opportunity to travel to English clubs, but it was mosly talk about playing in midfield,” Ayer said. “Celtic will see me as a central defender, and they will see me in the Scottish league.

“Now it will be important for me to get playing time and experience as a central defender, and that’s what I hope to get out now”.

The two-time Norway Under-19 international has failed to have any impact on the Celtic first team since his move from Norwegian outfit Start in the summer.

His only senior appearance was in the Champions League qualifying stages against Lincoln Red Imps back in July and he has found himself behind a host of in-form players in the pecking order at the runaway Scottish league leaders.

“Kris will go to Kilmarnock,” Rodgers said, as quoted by the Daily Record.” There were a couple of options but it’s good for him to play there.

“He has settled in here so he can go and play there for the rest of the season where we can keep a close eye on him and take him back.”

Football Insider verdict:

A loan move for Ajer is a sensible move, particularly as Rodgers and his staff want to see how he copes playing regularly at centre-back, an option not available in the current Celtic first team. The Hoops coaching staff have high hopes for the Norwegian and believe he can eventually develop into a top-ranking central defender. Five months at struggling Kilmarnock will give him the opportunity to develop his game against senior professionals.

In other Celtic transfer news, Rodgers has given an update on the future of this in-demand duo.

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