By Wayne Veysey

Celtic are ready to make Kristoffer Ajer one of their top earners in a bid to fend off interest from Europe’s elite clubs, Football Insider has learned.

The giant centre-back, 21, has attracted interest from Premier League and leading clubs on the Continent after making rapid strides over the last 12 months to establish himself as a first choice at Parkhead.

A Celtic source has told Football Insider that the club are ready to offer Ajer a deal worth £25,000-a-week to tie him to the club beyond his current agreement.

Talks are set to open imminently on a new contract for the Norway international even though he signed a four-year deal last year that runs until the summer of 2022.

Ajer has subsequently developed to the point where Neil Lennon regards him as one of the key players in his side along with the likes of Callum McGregor, James Forrest and Scott Brown.

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Celtic are aware of interest in the rising star and are keen to make progress in keeping him before the main European windows shut at the end of the month.

Ajer has blossomed during Lennon’s tenure as manager after being given his chance in central defender by Brendan Rodgers following his January 2016 arrival at the club.

He has started eight of Celtic’s nine matches this season and has accumulated 88 appearances in total for the Scottish champions.

In other Celtic news, it can be REVEALED that club chiefs are “devastated” as defender decides to quit after snubbing series of improved contract offers.