Kristoffer Ajer: Celtic defender signs new four-year contract

Kristoffer Ajer in action for Celtic
Kristoffer Ajer has established himself in Celtic's defence this season

Celtic centre-back Kristoffer Ajer has signed a new four-year contract which will keep him at the club until at least the summer of 2022.

The 20-year-old Norwegian defender has established himself at the heart of the champions' defence this season.

And Ajer revealed despite interest from elsewhere, signing a new contract with Brendan Rodgers' side "was never in doubt".

"Celtic was the easy choice for me to sign a new deal for," said Ajer.

Ajer has played 33 matches this term, helping Celtic win the Premiership title after spending the second half of last season on loan at Kilmarnock.

He was signed as a 17-year-old by former Celtic manager Ronny Deila.

Ajer arrived from Norwegian side IK Start in July 2016 but only featured once for Celtic's senior side last season - in a Champions League qualifier against Lincoln Red Imps - before heading to Rugby Park on loan in January 2017.

"I have to admit that things have happened a little bit quicker than I expected," said Ajer.

"I have developed really well over the last year and I think the spell I had at Kilmarnock was really important for me to go out on loan to really develop there and to come back - getting game time and developing every single day."

Kristoffer Ajer and Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers
Kristoffer Ajer was given his chance by Brendan Rodgers at the beginning of this season

On his return to Celtic, he played six games up until the beginning of December this season, when he started in a 5-1 win against Motherwell, but has been a regular starter since for manager Rodgers.

His form was also rewarded recently with his first international caps for Norway.

"I have been really focused for every single game here in Celtic, and now that there's a big squad everyone's fighting for a place in the starting eleven," he said.

"That is something that really makes us successful as well - everyone is pushing each other in training and in games, and really showing that they're 100% ready for every game.

"So there hasn't really been a turning point, but I'm just being 100% ready."

After fighting relegation with Kilmarnock last season, Ajer is part of a side that are on the verge of an unprecedented 'double-treble'.

However, the Norwegian is expecting Celtic to be made to fight all the way by Motherwell in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden on Saturday.

"It's a really exciting time now to go for the double treble, which is a goal for us," said the central defender.

"We've played a few games against them earlier this season and they've made it really tough for us, and I think they've had a really good season so we need to be 100% ready for that.

"When you play football you always want to win silverware and you want to be as successful as possible. When you play for Celtic you that know there is expectation to really perform and be successful.

"It will mean a lot for me and obviously the rest of the club, so hopefully we have a good performance on Saturday."

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