A.C. Milan are continuing their pursuit of Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer, according to reports in the Italian press.
Gianluca di Marzio reported on Sunday that Celtic were keen on sorting out a deal for Diego Laxalt, who has impressed under considerable restraint in the Green and White so far this season.
Milan News journalist Antonio Vitiello has reported similar today, on Twitter, suggesting Ajer could be part of it all.
#Celtic soddisfatto dell’avvio di stagione di #Laxalt, arrivato in prestito secco dal #Milan. S’inizia a parlare di un possibile acquisto da parte degli scozzesi. Al Milan piace sempre il difensore #Ajer, possibile intreccio tra i due club
— Antonio Vitiello (@AntoVitiello) November 24, 2020
Further to that, outlet Pianeta Milan has commented on the story, reporting that talks on the two players could take place at the upcoming UEFA Europa League match in Italy.
It’s said that relations between the two clubs are excellent.
Norwegian International Ajer, whose deal runs out in 2022, started his development at Lillestrom, before a spell at IK Start and then the Bhoys. After a loan spell at Kilmarnock, which converted him from a central midfielder into a trusty centre-back, Ajer has been ever-present in the Hoops, forming a formidable partnership with Frenchman Christopher Jullien in the 19-20 season.
Technical Director and defensive legend Paolo Maldini clearly likes what he sees in the Norwegian, with A.C. Milan having been strongly linked with a move for the defender in the summer of 2020.
Although that transfer didn’t materialise, Celtic’s loan acquisition of left-wing back Diego Laxalt appears to have changed the situation.
Ajer would be a huge loss
At only 22, Ajer has a decent amount of international experience and is a key player for Neil Lennon. He’s been the only permanent fixture at the back for Celtic, with injuries and bad form affecting Jullien, Duffy, Bitton and Welsh this season. In the bleaker moments of the season, Ajer’s body language implies that he’s a key influence at the back, and he takes it personally when we concede.
He’s still got a lot to add to his game – his ex-midfielder tendencies mean he likes to maraud into the middle of the park a little too often, but his ability to pick out a pass from the back, his leadership abilities and his skill in the tackle mean he’d be very hard to replace.
Put simply, if Maldini thinks you’re a good defender, you’re probably a good defender. Offering Ajer, probably our most consistent defender since Virgil van Dijk, anything but an excellent offer to stay would be madness.
Diego Laxalt is a tidy player, but it’s still too early to tell what his long-term influence on the team will be. Most Celtic supporters would be cynical about a like-for-like swap deal, if that is what Milan are proposing.
Ajer still has fantastic potential and has every right to consider his options with only a year a half left on his contract, but losing him would be an immense disappointment.