Stephen Welsh says absent Celtic team-mate Kristoffer Ajer ‘will play at the highest level’

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Stephen Welsh says absent Celtic team-mate Kristoffer Ajer will ‘play at the highest level’ as he seeks Parkhead Exit with Premier League side Newcastle interested in a potential £6million move

  • Norwegian defender Kristoffer Ajer wants to leave Celtic Summer
  • The 23-year-old has a one-year contract and is linked to Newcastle
  • Team-mate Stephen Welsh says Ajer is good enough to play at ‘top level’

Stephen Welsh has backed wanted Celtic team-mate Kristoffer Ajer to reach the top if he gets his wish to leave Parkhead.

The Norway international has once again saddened Celtic support who is already reeling from the club’s failed transfer for Eddie Howe by announcing it’s time for him to move on.

The 23-year-old has one year left on his Hoops contract but believes it would be best if Celtic cash in on him now.

Kristoffer Ajer has one year left on his Celtic deal and is set to leave Parkhead this summer

The 23-year-old has been linked with a £6m summer move to Premier League side Newcastle

The 23-year-old has been linked with a £6m summer move to Premier League side Newcastle

Ajer has been strongly linked with a £6million move to Newcastle, Steve Bruce’s Premier League fighters.

But Parkhead youngster Welsh thinks the quality of his defensive partner will ensure he has his choice of destinations, if any.

“Kris has been fantastic over the last four or five years – he’s been so good, especially when I came on the team,” said Welsh.

“He really helped me so much. What happens, happens. But he’s a fantastic player and I’m sure he can play at the highest level.

‘Will he be difficult to replace? You can say that about any player coming from Celtic. We will find a way. He’s still a Celtic player, so I think he’ll be fine.

‘By working together as a partnership, I thought we were a good fit. He did well. He is a great character for the team, day in, day out.

“He’s a bubbly boy. He is first and foremost a brilliant player and a good leader for the team.”

Stephen Welsh praised Ajer by saying he is good enough to play at 'top level'

Stephen Welsh praised Ajer by saying he is good enough to play at ‘top level’

Ajer told VG: “There are a lot of rumours, and at the moment there are only rumours.

“Obviously something is going to happen this summer. It’s best for both parties.’

Regarding possible destinations, Ajer said: ‘(In terms of which) club, I don’t want to get into anything.

“We’ll get to that later, but it’s a top five competition that I’m aiming for.”

Scotland Under-21 ace Welsh came into action for Scot Gemmill’s side in two friendly clashes with Northern Ireland this week and is now looking forward to some time off after an emotionally draining season in which boss Neil Lennon retired as the 10-in-a of the club – row of dreams crumbled.

Celtic have now let 103 days pass since Lennon’s departure and have yet to name a permanent successor.

Ange Postecoglou is reportedly approaching the runway, with Australian media alleging that Yokohama boss F Marinos plans to fly to Glasgow on Thursday to begin a 10-day quarantine period before taking over.

Welsh just hopes the situation will be resolved soon, with pre-season looming and Celtic’s Champions League qualifier opening in just six weeks.

Ajer made comments to the Norwegian press saying it is 'clear' something is going to happen this summer

Ajer made comments to the Norwegian press saying it is ‘clear’ something is going to happen this summer

The 21-year-old said: “It’s been a tough season, but we’ll be back soon. I’ll get myself in good shape for the preseason – we know what the preseason is all about. Sometimes it’s a bit of a swallow, but I’m looking forward to it.

“For the past week I’ve been trying to focus on Scotland. I’m sure the first team guys will be the same. They have the big tournament coming up, so I’m focusing on Scotland and getting fit for the pre-season. We’ll let the board handle it – they’re very good at it. I think it will be fine.

“We know the games will come thick and fast. It’s just a matter of adapting and dealing with it. If every player comes back good, that’s okay and let’s deal with it the right way for the club.

“The qualifiers are always huge games, not least financially for the club and for us as players to get to play in the Champions League is huge.

“There is always fear in the Champions League qualifiers. We take each day as it comes and hopefully we are ready.

“We let the club handle it as best we can (appointing a new boss). I’m sure they will. I’m just a player. I just need to get fit again for the preparation and let the club hierarchy take care of all that.’

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