By Alan Hutton

24th Dec, 2020 | 7:00am

Exclusive: Pundit wowed by Celtic player who's dazzled after rejecting new deal

Alan Hutton has suggested Kristoffer Ajer is “finally” getting back to his best form at Celtic after rejecting a new deal amid questions over his future.

The former Rangers and Scotland defender, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, admitted he was seriously impressed with the Norway international’s energy levels after playing as a makeshift right-back for part of the Scottish Cup final win.

The 22-year-old, who took the winning penalty on Sunday, was moved back to the heart of the defence against Ross County as Neil Lennon reverted to playing a back-three.

Hutton insisted there were plenty of questions over whether Ajer was committed to the cause at Parkhead earlier this season but suggested he had managed to silence the doubters with his performances.

Celtic have made a number of attempts to tie Ajer to a new deal to replace his current agreement, which expires in 2022, but he has rejected them.

Hutton told Football Insider: I think he’s done well the last few games – obviously been asked to come in at right-back and he’s done a job, he was getting up and down, he took the winning penalty. His confidence is there to go and do that.

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“I think he’s had a good few games, his energy levels look high because it’s not easy, if you ask any centre back to go and play at right full-back and get up and down the line, it’s difficult, they’re not used to that. 

“There were obviously questions over him at the start of the season but, finally, it looks like he’s knuckled down, he knows he’s at Celtic now for the foreseeable and he’s working hard, he’s starting to play well and he has stepped up.”

Ajer has now started in all but one of his 24 appearances across all competitions for the Bhoys this season.

He has the likes of Christopher Jullien, Shane Duffy, Hatem Abd Elhamed and Nir Bitton for competition at centre-back, while Jeremie Frimpong is Lennon’s first-choice right-back.

In other news, it can be REVEALED that Celtic have landed a £3.7million windfall ahead of the January transfer window.