Kristoffer Ajer could bring some steel to the heart of Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Saints back line with the Premier League outfit looking worryingly porous.
It Is fair to say Kristoffer Ajer will have better months.
The Celtic centre-back gave away a penalty with a reckless lunge against Rennes, bundled a cross into his own net against Hibernian and, in the shock 2-0 defeat to Livingston on Saturday, he was all at sea, bullied into submission by a fearsome Lyndon Dykes display.
But it speaks volumes about Ajer’s vast potential that no one is getting carried away just yet. The 21-year-old is still one of the most talented young defenders in Britain and, after producing a series of high class performances both at centre-half and at right-back, a couple of mistakes are not going to ruin his burgeoning reputation.
The vultures are circling and they have been for some time.
Southampton have done plenty of shopping north of the border in recent years, signing Virgil van Dijk, Stuart Armstrong and Victor Wanyama from Celtic, and TEAMtalk claimed in the summer of 2018 that Ajer has plenty of admirers at St Mary’s too.
The Norway international has certainly made an impression on Mohamed Elyounoussi and, once the winger returns to Southampton from a loan spell at Celtic next summer, it would be no surprise if the Saints returned to their old hunting ground for Ajer too.
‘More than good enough’
“We’ll see how long (Celtic) keep Kristoffer,” Elyounoussi, the most expensive Norwegian footballer ever at £16 million, told TV2. “I expect to see him in a bigger club and a bigger league.
“From what I’ve seen of him in the past and now on a daily basis in training and in action, he is more than good enough for the Premier League. You shouldn’t rule out him going there one day, and even beating my transfer record.”
Celtic might not thank Elyounoussi for pointing out that Ajer will more than likely outgrown the small Scottish pond sooner rather than later and the winger’s gushing praise should not go unnoticed by his parent club either.
Defensive mistakes continue to undermine Ralph Hasenhuttl’s efforts at St Mary’s with neither Jannik Vestergaard nor Jan Bednarek performing consistently enough since the former RB Leipzig boss took over almost a year ago
.Ajer is valued at £15 million, according to the Leicester Mercury, and that’s a small price to pay for a Southampton side with a well-publicised Achilles heel.