Celtic tie up second defender deal in days after terms agreed
By Alex Stevens
Kristoffer Ajer has joined Kilmarnock on loan from Celtic for the rest of the season, it was announced on Friday.
The Norway Under-19 international has made the move to the Scottish Premiership relegation battlers after being given the green light to establish himself in central defence.
Celtic confirmed on their official website and Twitter account on Friday afternoon that they had sealed the deal for Ayer, 18, to head to Rugby Park for a temporary spell.
Good luck at @OfficialKillie, @KristofferAjer! ? https://t.co/ALecXIAx0Z
— Celtic Football Club (@celticfc) January 20, 2017
It is the second defender deal completed by the Scottish Premiership leaders in days after it was announced on Wednesday that right-back Mikael Lustig had signed a new contract that ties him to the club until 2019.
? Celtic delighted as Mikael Lustig signs contract extension.
? https://t.co/RpJ5v62Ptq pic.twitter.com/ZNeuZeYR9a
— Celtic Football Club (@celticfc) January 18, 2017
Ajer revealed on Thursday night to Norwegian television that he had offers to move to English clubs on loan but Celtic wanted him to play under a manager willing to field him at centre-back rather than in the midfield position where he has predominantly played in youth-team football.
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It appears that Kilmarnock boss Lee Clark is keen to re-deploy the teenager and give him the opportunity to learn how to play at the back.
Ayer signed a pre-contract with Celtic in the last January window before linking up permanently with the club last summer.
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, with his only senior appearance in the Champions League qualifying stages against Lincoln Red Imps back in July.
At Kilmarnock, Ayer will be pitched straight into a relegation battle, with Kilmarnock placed 10th out of the 12 teams in the top flight and only four points above bottom club Inverness.
Speaking to Norwegian station TV2 on Thursday night, the teenager explained why the plug was pulled on a transfer down south.
“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”.
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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