When a club is lurching from crisis to catastrophe, the players who put in the hard yards week in, week out, become all that more important, standing out a mile as their teammates go aimlessly through the motions.
And while Celtic’s defensive record left a lot to be desired during a horrific 2020/21 campaign – they equalled the record for most goals conceded in a Europa League group stage – the club’s number one centre-half somehow managed to emerge from the wreckage with his reputation enhanced.
In truth, Kristoffer Ajer is one of the few Celtic players who can look back on the club’s worst season since the turn of the century with a degree of personal pride.
Unfortunately for a Hoops side that finished a staggering 25 points behind Old Firm rivals Rangers in the Premiership, the 6ft 6in Norway international was never likely to stick around to ease the transition from the wreckage of the Neil Lennon era to the Ange Postecoglou rebuild.
Newcastle and Norwich battle for signature of Celtic defender Ajer
The Sun reports Newcastle United and Norwich City are competing to take Ajer to the Premier League in the hope the one-time Kilmarnock loanee can emulate Virgil van Dijk’s talismanic impact south of the border.
And, in quotes reported by the Daily Record, Ajer all but confirmed his imminent departure from the club he joined as a fresh-faced 17-year-old when compatriot Ronny Deila was sitting in the Parkhead dugout.
“With one year left of my contract, (leaving Celtic) would be the best solution for me and my club. Something is going to happen this summer,” Ajer admitted.
Has the long-serving centre-back played his final game in the famous green-and-white hoops?
The common consensus among Celtic fans on Twitter appears to be a resounding ‘yes’: