Albian Ajeti snubbed again; Celtic picture looks grim for him

By David Walton

January 21, 2021

This is perhaps debatable, but the most eye-catching Neil Lennon signing for Celtic last summer had to be Albian Ajeti for me.

When the Swiss forward arrived from West Ham for a reported £5million fee (Sky Sports), it looked like a major statement from the club.

Many fans may look back now and wonder why we didn’t move for Ivan Toney, who’s tearing it up with Brentford. But in the summer, nobody was complaining when we signd Albian.

And no wonder either. The Switzerland international had good pedigree despite a disappointing time in East London. With 64 direct goal contributions in 96 games for Basel, Ajeti had something special looking about him (Transfermarkt).

It even looked like we had gotten a bargain at £5m to begin with. Remember, Ajeti scored in five of his first six Premiership games for the club. Big goals against the likes of Dundee United and Hibernian set him up nicely. But that September strike against Hibs was the last time he actually netted for the club.

Fast forward four months and Albian can barely get a game. Back from self-isolation last night along with plenty more in the Celtic first-team, he was left rooted to the bench. Lennon once again snubbed his big-money signing in a desperate situation.

The first player Neil turned to at the Tony Macaroni Arena was Patryk Klimala. Then Jeremie Frimpong. Scott Brown and Mikey Johnston made up the other two as Ajeti stayed remained on the bench.

Expensive Lennon signing can’t get a look-in at Celtic

So to sum up – our most expensive summer signing, a striker, was left on the bench for 90-minutes of a must-win game. Of a game where we desperately needed more firepower. A game in which the manager’s job could easily have been on the line in. Yet he still didn’t trust Albian.

It probably says a lot that Lennon didn’t go with two up front in the first place against Livi. He clearly doesn’t fancy the Leigh Griffiths/Ajeti partnership. Either that or he has a bizarre unwillingness to try it out.

Whatever the reasoning for his decisions last night, this looks a grim, grim picture for Ajeti. There’s no plausible excuse for not giving him minutes last night.

Albian Ajeti in Celtic training just days ago (Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Yet, he can’t have fallen out with the manager to any great degree if he’s making matchday squads. If he’s on the bench you have to assume it’s because Lennon believes at some stage he may need to be called upon. What possible scenario could differ from the one last night that could hold a stronger case for playing the former West Ham man?

To put it into perspective, listen to these facts. Ajeti hasn’t started a league game for Celtic since November. He hasn’t played more than 20 minutes in any of our previous eight matches. This season alone, he’s only managed a full 90 minutes on one occasion. That was in the Betfred Cup too (Transfermarkt).

He now appears to be totally out of the picture at the moment, with no sign of it changing anytime soon.

In other news, a Celtic employee says a major decision is expected “in the next week or so”.