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celtic Kristoffer Ajer to be a key figure in his team’s evolution this season

Techt902

fucked if I know
Oct 4, 2014
6,916
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The defender was sent out on loan in Rodgers' first season but has now become a key figure for his manager.

ByScott McDermott

French duo Moussa 
Dembele and Odsonne Edouard are grabbing the headlines in Brendan Rodgers’ newly-shaped Celtic.

But the Hoops gaffer expects 
Norwegian youngster Kristoffer Ajer to be a key figure in his team’s evolution this season.

It looks like the Treble winners will deploy a 3-5-2 system that allows 
Rodgers to play Dembele and Edouard together up front.

Even this early in the campaign it looks like an exciting prospect for Celtic fans with the front pair bang in form.

But the formation also means that Rodgers needs a ball-playing centre-back who can step out as the spare man to initiate attacks.

And in 20-year-old Ajer he feels he’s got one of the most prodigious talents around. The youngster was superb for Celtic in their Champions League 
qualifying win over Aleshkert.

And with Rodgers now short on defenders, after Jozo Simunovic’s red card in midweek, for their next 
qualifier against Rosenborg on Wednesday, the inexperienced Ajer will play a pivotal role.

The Parkhead boss has hailed his progress in the last year and claims Ajer is already a natural leader in the dressing-room.

Rodgers said: “Kris has made some big steps. He’s only 20 but he’s really dominant.

“You think now that when 
everything comes through the middle of the pitch – he’s going to get his head on it.

“He’s a natural leader as a young guy and is improving all the time.

“He was thrown in against 
Rosenborg last year in the Champions League but he’s now a Treble winner for Celtic and a regular for his country.

“He’s had lots of experiences and is developing really well.

“Kris came from Norway where he played as a No.10, scoring goals. Now he’s progressing as a centre-half.

“He must be able to defend, first and foremost. But if you can build up play as well then you can be critical for the team and how we play.

“Kris is very comfortable at that.

“He has earned the respect of his 
team-mates, not just in games but how he is in training.

“He’s got a lot of strength and is a quick learner. He’s a bright boy who takes information on very quickly.

“Every day in training he wants to win. He wants to improve and get better.”

Ajer is adept at picking the right moment to break forward from 
Celtic’s defence and open up spaces ahead of him.

It has now become a feature of the Parkhead side’s play and the new system allows him to do it, with two other 
centre-backs covering.

Rodgers encourages him to do it when the time’s right – and knows clubs in England or abroad will have taken note of Ajer’s performances.

But he’s adamant that his defensive qualities are what matters most to him.

He said: “His rampaging runs from defence are part of how we build the game from behind. It helps when you’ve got someone of that quality. But it depends where the space is.

“If you’re playing against one striker, the space is on the outside with the two outside centre-backs.

“But if it’s against a two, the central guy like Kris has the space to go forward.

“When he attacks and steps in, he breaks lines very well. You get players like that. They find themselves on the edge of the box – but the problem is, they have to get back.

“I remember Gerry Taggart doing that for Leicester. He used to step forward and just barge everyone out of his way.

“Kris is very elegant and the comfort he feels with the ball is very 
important. I need that with all of the players.

“We need that to pass and play the way we want. But it’s really important that they can defend as well.

“Will other clubs look at him? I’ve no doubt because he’s a young central defender who can play.

“But first and 
foremost you have to be able to defend.

“Kris doesn’t take many risks, which is a key point to 
his game.”

Celtic’s shape means the likes of James Forrest and Kieran Tierney operate as wing-backs, where they have to work hard on the flanks.

With three central midfielders and two strikers, Scotland’s player of the year from 2016/17, Scott Sinclair, has found himself on the bench.

Rodgers admits the English winger may have to adapt his game but claims he still has a part to play.

He said: “The beauty of the team now is that we can play in different systems.

“Where will Scott play in this system? It depends but he can play inside one, up front.

“It’s just important that he’s back to working the way he was. And he has been great in pre-season.

“It’s a long campaign. We’ll play 
different systems and it will be about what we feel a specific game needs.

“We want to attack more this season and be more aggressive. I’ve been really pleased in the early part of this season in terms of how that has evolved.”

Certainly, the Celtic manager will need every player available to him for the two legs against Rosenborg in the 
Champions League 
second qualifying round.

The Hoops saw off the Norwegians a year ago to reach the play-offs thanks to a solitary Forrest goal in Trondheim.

But despite injuries and players returning from the World Cup, the 
manager believes his squad is even 
better equipped this time around.

He said: “Rosenborg have had a few changes but how they play is exactly the same – it has been that way for a number of years. They go 4-3-3 and try to work the ball.

“Any game at this stage is tough but we’ll look to take an advantage from the home leg on 
Wednesday over to Norway.

“You see the 
fitness levels of our players and the 
condition they’re in. They look strong 
and very focused.”
 

Attachments

May 3, 2015
38
8
He is developing really well and could be a great defender. Toughen up a wee bit which will come with age and experience
 

Darloexile

Moderator
Gallowgate_2018
Oct 27, 2014
1,842
494
Has the makings of being a star for us.
Couple wee silky mistakes that appear to be because of overconfidence and trying to make things happen rather than complacency.
He will learn and he doesn't fill me with dread when I watch him.
 
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