It seems one player who won’t be coming to Newcastle United this summer is Celtic centre-back Kristoffer Ajer.
As revealed this afternoon by The Telegraph’s John Percy, Brentford have agreed a deal of around £13.5m – a club record fee – to bring the Hoops star to West London.
The Athletic revealed earlier this month that the Norwegian had been one of our top summer targets, while The Chronicle reported back in June that we were trying to negotiate a deal at around the £6-£8m mark – due to the fact he’s out of contract next summer.
However, it seems Celtic have played hardball over his asking price and have now agreed a deal with the Bees:
We know that Mike Ashley is refusing to spend while he waits for the ongoing Saudi takeover saga to reach a conclusion, but it’s another sad sign of the times that we’re refusing to compete with newly promoted clubs.
Is £13.5m a lot to pay for a SPL player who was due to be out of contract next summer? Some will say yes, but you don’t get many 6ft 6′, ball-playing defenders with pace and Champions League experience for that price in this day and age.
He’s also just 23, meaning he would’ve fit into Mike Ashley’s buying policy, however talk of a £10m budget for Steve Bruce has coincided with Celtic refusing to let their star centre-back leave on the cheap, meaning this deal has felt less and less likely as the weeks have gone by.
A few Celtic fans I’ve spoken to say he isn’t great in the air for his height and is much better on the ball than he is at defending, but others have seen shades of Virgil Van Dijk in Ajer.
Considering Brentford could be relegation rivals this coming season, let’s hope he doesn’t perform anything like the latter!