Danny Mills has suggested Kristoffer Ajer’s agent could be the reason the Norway manager publicly encouraged him to leave Celtic.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-England and Manchester City full-back claimed it was “a clever tactic” to deflect any potential criticism from the defender.

Stale Solbakken told Norweigan publication VG, as relayed by The Scotsman: “He has to change league now. He must. He does not have enough challenges in everyday life there.”

Ajer has long been linked with a move away from Parkhead and Football Insider revealed last summer he was one of a number of Celtic players keen to quit Glasgow.

The Daily Mail report Premier League side Newcastle United are weighing up an £8million bid for the 22-year-old, who will enter the final year of his Celtic contract next season.

Asked for his assessment of Solbakken’s comments, Mills told Football Insider correspondent Connor Whitley: “It certainly doesn’t help.

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“Also, who’s the agent involved? What are they doing? Are they behind it? Trying to create one or two issues and make it out like it’s not the player.

“Sometimes it’s quite a clever way of deflecting and using other people to get your message across and get it out there.

“Then you can turn around and say ‘It wasn’t me, I didn’t say it.’ It can be quite a clever tactic at times.”

Celtic have offered a disastrous defence of their Scottish Premiership title this season but Ajer insists it has been his “best season” for the Hoops.

He told the Daily Record: “At least that is the year I have developed the most. Where I feel I have taken the biggest step is that I make wiser choices defensively.”

In other news, a top pundit has claimed Celtic have been handed a “massive” blow after major news.