Celtic striker Albian Ajeti cost £4.5m, don’t you know?
It was an eyebrow-raising fee at the time [BBC], and even more so now. In the more modest financial climate of Scottish football, even at the very highest level, spending millions on players is big news. Least of all for a little-heralded striker who David Moyes supposedly didn’t realise had at West Ham.
A goalscoring start is gold-dust for Celtic strikers. That sounds obvious, but it’s taken even our greatest names to get firing. Henrik Larsson’s debut is the stuff of legend, while Big Bad John didn’t get his first goals for the club until October, having joined in the summer of 2001.
So, it’s even better when a forward joins Celtic and immediately gets off to a hot start. Imperative even. Especially when there’s cost attached. That’s why Albian Ajeti had supporters talking when he began his time at Celtic.
Ajeti scored in his first three league outings for the Bhoys. A winning strike against Dundee United and goals in wins against Motherwell, Ross County, Livingston and Hibs dictated that this was money well spent [Transfermarkt]. And then, for months: nothing.
With Odsonne Edouard playing for France’s U21s currently, and mystery surrounding Griffiths and Klimala, Ajeti is surely a lock for tonight’s visit of Falkirk. Right? It’s very hard to imagine anyone other than the Swiss striker leading the line against the Bairns. That is, unless, John Kennedy throws us an absolute curve-ball and gives Owen Moffat his debut.
Celtic v Falkirk represents a shot at redemption for Albian Ajeti
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, here. Tonight’s Scottish Cup clash is against opposition we should be beating comfortably. Goals against League One Falkirk won’t put millions on Ajeti’s price-tag.
Strikers are a rare breed, though, who rely on confidence. Putting the ball in the back of the net has been an unfamiliar sensation for Ajeti after a hot start to life in Glasgow. The ex-Basel man really should have no problems finding the target tonight.
It’d be a massive concern for his long-term future at Celtic if he’s unable to make a mark. There’s plenty of motivation for the Celtic players tonight. Ajeti, like the whole squad, will be aware that the team next season will be markedly different to the one he joined last summer.
It’s remarkable that we’re talking about a nearly £5m striker needing to prove himself at this level. However, he absolutely does. If he can score, and take that confidence into the rest of the season, it makes John Kennedy’s life so much easier. Not least because it means he could play two up front, which seems to be the orthodoxy at Lennoxtown.
Tonight was already a big deal. For Albian Ajeti, that’s especially true.