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Celtic can save millions by replacing Ajer with Leo Hjelde

The exit train has left Celtic and its carriages feature a number of their star players.

Where their destination lies, only some will know, but it’s looking like an increasingly bleak summer for on the departure front for the Hoops.

On the chalkboard

Odsonne Edouard is still attracting plenty of interest from the Premier League, while there is now a fear that Callum McGregor could follow him to England.

That said, one man who definitely looks set for a move south of the border is Kristoffer Ajer. The Norwegian had grown angry and frustrated at how his situation was developing at Parkhead.

The Bhoys had rejected bids from Norwich and Bayer Leverkusen for his services, with a £20m price tag slapped on his head.

Will Celtic miss Kristoffer Ajer?

Definitely!

Definitely!

No chance!

No chance!

However, Celtic eventually caved in and, according to reports, have ended up accepting an offer of £13.5m from Brentford for Ajer’s services.

The defender will be very hard to replace. He is a leader and possesses rare traits for a centre-back, dribbling forward like a winger and able to play a defensive-splitting pass like a playmaker in his prime.

The solution

Celtic will presumably go out and sign a replacement for Ajer – after all, they were shambolic from a defensive point of view last season. They shipped 16 more goals in the Premiership than their fierce rivals Rangers and will have an uphill task to improve on that with the Norwegian leaving.

Hajduk Split centre-back Mario Vuskovic is a consideration for the hierarchy but the number one target at the moment to replace him is Carl Starfelt. They have agreed terms with the Swede and negotiations are now being finalised to complete a transfer.

However, Celtic may already have Ajer’s most natural replacement already at the club. That happens to be fellow Norwegian Leo Hjelde.

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Just 17 years of age, it would be a tough ask to ask him to immediately step into the breach, but it’s important to remember that his defensive colleague was also very young when he became a first team regular at Parkhead.

Yet to make his senior Hoops debut, Hjelde spent the second half of last season on loan at Ross County, where he caught the eye immensely, even being compared to Virgil van Dijk. The Dutchman learned part of his trade in Scotland before moving to Southampton and then heading to Liverpool, quickly becoming one of the best defenders on the planet.

Speaking about Hjelde last season, John Hughes commented: “Leo is going to be the next Van Dijk. Trust me on that.” He then claimed that the youngster had a “massive future” ahead of him.

With that in mind, it would appear that the teenager is a ball-playing defender with plenty of technical attributes in his locker.

You get that feeling when Hjelde talks about his own game too, saying: “Kristoffer is a very good player and he had the same career path like me too.”

The teenager added: “I like to be on the ball and try to create things too but my main priority always has to be defending.”

After gaining valuable first team experience in the Premiership last season, it surely won’t be too long before he earns his Celtic calling.

Postecoglou has already spoken of his desire to field younger players. He said during his first week in the job: “I’m a big believer that, if you can produce homegrown talent and players who have come through the club, there’s extra meaning to represent that football club for the player.”

The new manager added: “My job is to give those footballers an opportunity and make them realise their potential. For me, age is irrelevant.”

Therefore, it’s time for the Australian to put his money where his mouth is and give a chance to Hjelde. Now feels like the perfect time to introduce him to senior team life at Lennoxtown.

AND in other news, Imagine him & Furuhashi: Ange can form magic Celtic duo by signing “exciting” 21 y/o…

Article title: Celtic can save millions by replacing Ajer with Leo Hjelde

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