Celtic striker Albian Ajeti reveals what Lennon told him before goalscoring return

By Euan Davidson

February 4, 2021

Celtic striker Albian Ajeti looked relieved when the Bhoys went 4-0 up on Tuesday [BBC].

The Swiss striker had done almost everything else. His run into the box won a foul, from which Edouard netted a penalty. His passing was sharp, his movement often excellent. All he needed was to finish the 90 minutes, and even better, a goal for his efforts.

That came in the 86th minute, with a tidy finish past Colin Doyle. The relief on his face told the whole story.

Here was a man who’d been signed for £5m [Sky Sports], with a decent reputation forged in mainland Europe. At FC Basel and St. Gallen, Ajeti had exhibited his eye for goal, albeit, it didn’t work for him at West Ham United. Now in the Scottish Premiership, the 23-year-old had impressed early on, but appeared to be a forgotten man under Neil Lennon.

So, a goal was vital. He got his chance and took it. And that’s after some important talks with the Celtic boss, the details of which were revealed today [Glasgow Live].

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According to Ajeti:

“We had a lot of good and honest conversations, but I had been struggling with some injuries and it was fitness, so I need to keep my health”

“I have to understand it when he says something because he is my manager.

“If somebody expects that from me, then I have to try my best to give him that.

“The manager said to just keep working hard and be patient. He said I know it is a hard time for you. But this is football, this is a part of it.

“We all know how it works and how it is and I didn’t make a big deal out of it, but I am happy now to be back.”

Albian Ajeti celebrates scoring for Celtic / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Celtic striker Albian Ajeti “happy to be back”

Nobody’s getting carried away here. Kilmarnock are a side on dismal form, who just sacked their manager. A 4th goal in a comfortable win doesn’t make him Jimmy McGrory.

All the same, it’s encouraging to see and hear that Ajeti is on the right track. Next to Edouard, the pair worked effectively. French Eddy played with utter freedom, causing havoc with his close control and forceful runs into the box.

Ajeti made himself hard to track, and caused problems with his movement and then, ultimately, his finishing. Against Scottish Premiership sides, he can surely profit further.

It seems that Ajeti had underperformed in training, in Neil Lennon’s view. However, the Celtic boss motivated the striker in the right way, getting him to build his fitness and giving him an opportunity.

We’ve spoken at length about Neil Lennon’s deficiencies this season, with good cause, but this is a case of his brash style paying dividends.

Here’s hoping the former Basel striker can really get going in the latter half of the season. 9 goal involvements in 16 games is certainly good going [Transfermarkt], but you get the sense he’s capable of much more.