Kristoffer Ajer bounces back from major disappointment; Celtic star makes Norway XI

By Euan Davidson

March 27, 2021

Celtic star Kristoffer Ajer has returned to Norway’s starting XI.

The tall centre-back had been left out of Wednesday’s clash against Gibraltar, but he and Mohammed Elyounoussi started for Solbakken’s Norway side. The dropping of Ajer seemed to feed into the context of his national manager urging a move from Celtic.

Stale Solbakken told news outlet VG that Ajer “will” go to a top-5 league this summer. Additionally, former Fulham centre-back Brade Hangeland repeated that message. There’s clearly huge expectation in Norway over the 22-year-old’s development.

Ajer and Elyounoussi line up in a star-studded Norway team. Erling Haaland, Martin Ødegaard and Alexander Sørloth all have a part to play against Turkey.

The Norwegians are aiming to compete in their first World Cup since 1998, whereupon they took on Scotland, drawing 1-1. Former Celtic man Craig Burley scored on the day to roars from the Tartan Army.

The game is not without controversy, however. On Wednesday night, the Norway players wore t-shirts protesting human rights violations in Qatar. The 2022 World Cup, mired in controversy from the start, has seen several migrant worker fatalities in the building of stadia and facilities [Guardian]. Those who survive are paid paltry wages, and according to Human Rights Watch are subject to “the kafala system, which ties migrant workers’ visas to their employers”.

Big Kris Ajer doing the business for Norway / (Photo by Alex Nicodim/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

In both football and morals, Kristoffer Ajer and Mohamed Elyounoussi are fine Celtic and Norway representatives

FIFA, for their part, have taken no action against the nation’s demonstrations [Guardian].

Surely Scotland, the Republic of Ireland and other nations should follow suit. Nothing is as important as human rights and health. Football is secondary to those things, and if the SFA, for example, have some sense, they’ll join with Norway sooner or later.

From a footballing perspective, it’s a massive opportunity for Ajer. This morning, Newcastle United were linked with a laughable £8m move for the centre-back. Performances on the big stage are where valuations are made. If Ajer is able to assist Norway in qualifying for a tournament they may well boycott, then his evaluation will net Celtic more money.

Of course, we’d rather keep Kristoffer Ajer. Supporters adore him.

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