By Alex McLeish

18th Oct, 2020 | 8:00am

Pundit Exclusive: Celtic have the next 'Virgil van Dijk'

Alex McLeish has lauded how influential Kristoffer Ajer has become during his time at Celtic.

The former Rangers and Scotland manager, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, insists the centre-back has become an “inspirational” figure for the Hoops.

Speaking to the Daily Record, Ajer admitted that there had been “a lot of interest” from other clubs in a transfer over the summer window.


As quoted by the Scottish Sun, AC Milan chief Paulo Maldini confirmed the Italian giants’ interest in the 22-year-old over the summer but a move never materialised.

McLeish has applauded the Norway international for becoming a standout performer for the Bhoys and insists that the interest from elsewhere demonstrates how talented a player he is.

McLeish told Football Insider: “He’s been an influential player for them.

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“I go back to that St Johnstone game, you see sometimes when it’s not going for Celtic and the game’s in its dying embers, and then all of a sudden you see Ajer striding up the pitch trying to inspire like Roy of the Rovers.

“Running from defence, augment the attack and then it leads to a goal – these are inspirational moments and he is an inspirational, influential player for Celtic.

“He mentions (interest) he’s getting from top Italian teams then it tells you how far Ajer has progressed in the game. Like Virgil van Dijk, he came to Celtic and we all know what happened next.”

Ajer has made 141 appearances for Celtic since joining the club in 2016.

He has also picked up 19 caps for Norway, all of which have come during his time at Parkhead.

In other Celtic news, major Hoops player exodus tipped after Athletic transfer reveal.