Southampton transfer target Kristoffer Ajer impressed on international duty despite his side’s narrow 2-1 loss to Serbia on Thursday.
Norway were pipped to a result in their most recent European qualifier match after a brace from Sergej Milinkovic-Savic cancelled out Mathias Normann’s last-gasp equaliser. The Lazio midfielder got his country ahead with an extremely late opener in the 81st minute, netting again in extra time to seal the all-important win.
With the Saints conceding 60 Premier League goals last season, Ajer’s display for Norway could have pricked up Ralph Hasenhuttl’s ears.
The Celtic man played the full 120 minutes of tense regular and added time for his country last night. His determination to keep Serbia at bay carried Norway through an agonising two hours of football. According to Sofascore, Ajer made a monstrous eight interceptions and four tackles, as well as five clearances.
The highly-sought after defender also completed 10 of his 12 attempted duels and made a total of 91 touches, keeping an 85% pass accuracy rating.
Southampton have the ever-impressive Danny Ings at their disposal up front, with new loan signing Theo Walcott to help create chances in attack. However, Hasenhuttl must look to crack down on last season’s leaky defence, one that has already conceded six goals in four league games this season – five of which came in one match against Tottenham.
First choice option Jan Bednarek has just two years left on his current contract and the club may be starting to think about a replacement in case he doesn’t sign a new deal. Meanwhile, Jack Stephens and Jannick Vestergaard are both older than Ajer, who is impressing for both club and country at just 22-years-old, and have had their respective difficult spells at St Mary’s.
Not only has the Norwegian kept five clean sheets in ten Premiership appearance this term, he has also contributed a goal and an assist. Last season he played all but two league matches for the Hoops, keeping 13 clean sheets and notching three goals and two assists for good measure (via Transfermarkt).
Towering at a huge 6 foot 5, Ajer could partner new signing Mohammed Salisu, who is also a young centre-back. The Ghana international is left-footed, meaning Ajer’s sweet right peg could be the perfect addition to Southampton’s backline.
Football Insider reported that Celtic would allow the centre-half to leave if a £20million price tag is met, which is the same amount the Saints spent on Ings last year. As an investment for the future, the asking price is very low and Ajer could bring an enormous impact to St Mary’s.