Details emerge over Brentford's pursuit of former Celtic man Kristoffer Ajer

By Euan Davidson

September 22, 2021

Former Celtic man Kristoffer Ajer was watched a whopping 123 times by Brentford.

In an interview with Norwegian outlet TV2, the ex-Bhoys defender revealed how intense the Premier League team’s analysis was. According to Ajer, each of his appearances was graded and pored over in detail. Then, it was given a rating of green for good, red for unsatisfactory.

Interestingly, ex-CEO Dom McKay listed Brentford as a “benchmark” for comparison of football operations [Scotsman]. The hugely respected outfit, associated with FC Midtjylland, are known for intense scouting and number-based analysis of players.

It’s a model that’s worked for them. Ajer is improving and impressing in the Premier League. Brentford, meanwhile, sit 9th in the table [Premier League].

On the intense scouting, Ajer said [TV2]:

“[Brentford] said that they had been to 123 matches with Celtic and provided feedback on which ones were green and approved, and which ones were red and unacceptable. 

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“They analyse everything. What I liked about this club compared to the others, was that they said that there was a lot of excitement with me. They were interested in [me], but also [there was] a lot I had to improve.”

Celtic could learn from Brentford’s intense scouting of Kristoffer Ajer

So much has changed since the summer, of course. Dom McKay, who had listed Brentford as a model to learn from, has already left the club.

The manager named alongside him has brought in a smorgasbord of new players. In essence, the club Ajer left is substantially different.

But it’d be sad to think that exploring evidence-based research into successful football scouting models left with McKay. Often, it seems Celtic have signed players based off a hunch.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Smaller clubs, namely Brentford, have squeezed the most out of their resources. Yet, they’re able to scrutinise and then sign one of our biggest names.

The development and sale of Kristoffer Ajer ought to be a learning process. Yes, he was an example of Celtic bringing in, building up and selling on a player for several times his initial cost. That’s a good thing.

But how does the club repeat that? What models can be brought in to ensure Celtic are a progressive club that has success on the pitch, and make profit off it?

If the standard of scouting nowadays is watching a player over 100 times, then that’s the example Celtic need to aspire to. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s having a real-life, tangible impact.

In other news: John Hartson urges Ange Postecoglou to come up with Celtic defensive plan