Former Liverpool full-back John Arne Riise has made the slightly surprising comparison between his ex team-mate Jamie Carragher and Celtic’s Kristoffer Ajer.
The retired left-back, now 39, will be well versed in Ajer’s capabilities given that the pair both hail from Norway. Riise reckons the youngster is a “proper defender” much like former Liverpool man and current Sky Sports pundit Carragher.
“He’s quite big and people think he’s slow because of that but he’s quicker than you think and he’s a proper defender – a bit like Jamie Carragher who I played with at Liverpool,” he told The Herald.
“Jamie wasn’t the best technical player but he was a defender and Ajer is the same – he’s just a pure defender.”
Ajer is a different kind of defender to Carragher
While being likened to Champions League winner Carragher may be pretty flattering for Ajer, he may also be questioning the comparison a little.
During his lengthy career, the Englishman made up for his lack of pace or technical ability by reading the game well, and stopping attacks as they gathered momentum.
Ajer is yet to reach a similar level to that of Carragher but he has already shown that he has far more to his game. As well as reading the game well, the Norwegian also has a neat turn of pace and a forceful challenge as well as good aerial ability.
Given that Ajer can often be a very good attacking outlet, it seems a little harsh for Riise to describe him as not being very good technically.
Perhaps the former Start man plays totally differently for his country than he does for Celtic. But it’s hard to imagine that being the case. Maybe Riise should get himself along to Tynecastle tonight to see the future of his country’s national team in action.