For all the clamour surrounding the array of dazzling young attacking talent emerging from the cold shores of Norway, it’s about time the defence got the credit they deserve.
So often the poor relations of Scandinavian football, Norway have now secured a play-off place as they look to end their long tournament exile by reaching Euro 2020 next summer. And while the likes of Erling Braut Haaland, Josh King and Martin Odegaard have hogged all the headlines, albeit understandably so, Lars Lagerback's side wouldn’t be within touching distance of qualification without Kristoffer Ajer and Omar Elabdellaoui.
The Celtic centre-half and the Olympiakos right-back have been fixtures in Norway’s side as they finished third in their qualifying group, conceding just 11 goals in 10 games along the way.
They’ve developed quite the understanding too, shining in particular during an impressive 1-1 draw against a star-studded Spain team in October. And, who knows, Ajer and Elabdellaoui could be team-mates at Celtic before too long.
Despite the incessant speculation about a potential move below the border, Celtic are planning to keep Ajer for the long haul with manager Neil Lennon telling the Record in November that a new contract could be on the way.
And, according to The Mail, Elabdellaoui could join him in green and white before too long. Celtic scouted the Olympiakos captain last month and, given that his contract expires at the end of the season, the one-time Manchester City youngster will soon be available for free.
Moritz Bauer’s permanent successor, anyone?
Either way, if Elabdellaoui does arrive, expect to see him and Ajer strike up an immediate understanding on and off the pitch.
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