Newcastle United have suffered a potentially significant blow in their pursuit of Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer.
According to The Athletic, the Hoops have shocked potential suitors of the 23-year-old by suddenly increasing their asking price to £20 million, forcing talks to collapse with interested parties.
With Ajer having less than a year to run on his contract at Celtic Park, many sides are unlikely to see the new figure as value for money, making any deal extremely difficult to justify at that price.
During his five-year stint with the Glasgow giants, Ajer has often caught the eye with his impressive performances, winning eight major trophies with the Hoops.
His standout displays have earned several plaudits, including from former Scotland boss Alex McLeish, who praised the 6 ft 4 beast during the recently concluded campaign.
“I go back to that St Johnstone game, you see sometimes when it’s not going for Celtic, and the game’s in its dying embers, and then all of a sudden you see Ajer striding up the pitch trying to inspire like Roy of the Rovers, ” said McLeish.
“Running from defence, augment the attack and then it leads to a goal – these are inspirational moments, and he is an inspirational, influential player for Celtic. Like Virgil van Dijk, he came to Celtic, and we all know what happened next.”
It, therefore, came as little surprise when the Norway international was heavily linked with a move to the Premier League with Newcastle in recent weeks, with Steve Bruce keen to build on some impressive end-of-season form.
However, the Magpies boss will be gutted at the shock increase in Ajer’s valuation, potentially pricing the St. James’ Park outfit out of a deal.
With the impact of the ongoing pandemic continuing to negatively affect football club’s finances, and Newcastle owner Mike Ashley not exactly known for his free-spending nature, Bruce is expected to be working on a tight budget this summer.
As a result, any move for Ajer may have to be put on hold as a consequence of this latest revelation, handing Newcastle a setback in their plans for the current window.