Tonight’s match may be a dead rubber for the Celtic support, but that couldn’t be any more false for Hoops defender Kristoffer Ajer.
Ajer has been producing some incredibly under-par displays in recent weeks and perhaps even for the last two months as a whole. In the last two games alone he’s been extremely suspect from two cross-balls into the box that resulted in goals.
But Ajer’s performances started declining long before the Sparta Prague and Ross County games respectively. He’s been the mainstay of a backline that’s now conceded 23 goals in its last 10 games. It’s an incredibly poor return, and the Norwegian has had his part to play in that.
Tonight could help him put all of that behind him though. Reliable Italian journalist Antonio Vitiello reported last week that the Hoops and Milan could be set to strike a swap deal involving Diego Laxalt.
With Ajer into the final year of his contract next season, next summer will be our final opportunity to rake in a sizable fee for the Norwegian. Considering Milan’s previous interest, this game reads as a perfect chance for Ajer to really impress Rossoneri manager Stefano Pioli.
Yes, it’s a dead-rubber for us, but not for AC. After only collecting one point out of six against Lille, Pioli’s side really need a win here – especially if they still have plans to top the group.
Ajer can show Milan what he’s capable of
Should Ajer play a key role in the side that stopped them from achieving their Europa League goal, and on their own patch no less, that’s the sort of achievement that doesn’t go unnoticed. Milan will be aware of Ajer’s level of performance tonight, and will most likely be keeping a close eye on how he acquits himself.
It also won’t escape Milan that Celtic are already out of Europe. It would speak volumes for Ajer’s professionalism and level of responsibility if he manages to keep out the likes of Brahim Diaz and Jens Petter Hauge this evening.
Milan News 24 reported earlier this week that Milan are considering Ajer as one of three potential centre-back options for the future. Paolo Maldini, the club’s technical director, is said to be considering him alongside Fiorentina’s Nikola Milenkovic and Strasbourg’s Mohamed Simakan.
We’ve all come to terms with the fact that Ajer is likely to go at the end of the season. There are no signs of a new contract being even offered nevermind accepted, and the time is right for him to try and hone his craft elsewhere.
Impressing Milan tonight could go a long way to helping him secure a dream move to one of Europe’s top leagues at the end of the season. Whilst, at the same time, he could be doing us a big favour to help turn our season around.
Tonight’s huge for Ajer – here’s hoping he performs like it is.