BBC Scotland’s chief sports writer Tom English appeared on a recent edition of the BBC’s Sportsound Scottish Football Podcast and he spent some time talking about Celtic centre-back Kristoffer Ajer during the show.
Ajer, who joined the Hoops from Norwegian side IK Start back in 2016, has been one of Celtic’s most heavily-used players this term, with the 22-year-old playing in 20 of their first 22 games of the season, ahead of the Glasgow club’s clash with AC Milan on Thursday.
However, given how often he’s played for Neil Lennon’s side this term, as well as the fact that Celtic have been going through a rough patch of form of late that has resulted in some fans of the Glasgow club calling for Lennon to be sacked, perhaps it’s not a surprise that Ajer has come in for some criticism of late, with ex-Hoops goalkeeper Pat Bonner recently criticising the £3.6m-rated man. Now, English has had his say on the defender and he wasn’t too complimentary either.
He said: “You’ve got Ajer, who thinks he’s Franz Beckenbauer – I have certain issues with Ajer, I’ve watched him closely for a while now.
“When he makes a mistake, too often, his first instinct is to blame others around him; gesticulating, pointing, shouting.”
Do you think English's criticism of Ajer is fair?
TIF Thoughts on what English had to say about Ajer…
It would appear from the Beckenbauer comment that English has some issues with Ajer’s style of play, however, we feel that Ajer has performed well in several areas for the Hoops on the pitch this season.
As per WhoScored, he has played the second-highest number of passes (77.4) and the fourth-highest number of long-balls (3.6) per game of any Celtic player in the Premiership this term. Meanwhile, looking at his defensive numbers, only two Celtic players have made more tackles (1.7) and only one Celtic player has made more interceptions (1.4) per game than Ajer in Scotland’s top flight this season.
With that in mind, as well as the fact that Ajer has been one of Celtic’s most frequently used players during the 2020/21 campaign, we feel that the journalist’s criticism of the 22-year-old is harsh.