Photo by Steve Welsh/Pool via Getty Images

Celtic striker Albian Ajeti hasn’t hit top form in recent years, but he has been defended by Real Betis boss Manuel Pellegrini.

Celtic travel to Spain tonight, kicking off their Europa League group stage campaign with a trip to Betis.

New signing Giorgos Giakoumakis isn’t quite ready to play yet after his move from VVV-Venlo.

That means Ajeti may be called upon to play up front, especially with Kyogo Furuhashi still out injured.

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Ajeti’s history with Pellegrini

West Ham wanted to sign a striker late in the 2019 summer transfer window. They had spent big on Sebastien Haller, but wanted a cheaper option.

The Hammers went for Ajeti. The Swiss striker had hit 35 goals in his two full seasons at Basel following a 2017 move from St Gallen.

There was real hope that Ajeti would contribute goals in the Premier League, but it didn’t happen.

Ajeti managed just nine Premier League appearances for West Ham, 12 in total. Ajeti never scored a goal for West Ham before being sold to Celtic just a year after his arrival.

The West Ham manager at the time of Ajeti’s arrival? That was Pellegrini, the man who faces Ajeti and Celtic tonight.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Pellegrini defends Celtic striker Ajeti

Pellegrini barely played Ajeti, and the striker is considered to be one of his worst signings at the London Stadium.

The Chilean boss has though defended Ajeti, and even talked him up ahead of facing Celtic tonight whilst speaking to The Scottish Sun.

Pellegrini defended the decision to sign Ajeti for West Ham, believing he had a big future – and now thinks that he can be very dangerous for Celtic tonight if Betis aren’t careful.

“We brought him from Switzerland to West Ham and at that point he was a young striker with a big future,” said Pellegrini.

“Now he has the opportunity to demonstrate his talent at Celtic and also with the national squad with Switzerland. He is a striker we must be very aware of,” he added.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

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