Transfer rumour: Canaries interested in Celtic defender

Celtic's Kristoffer Ajer reacts during the Scottish Premiership match at Easter Road, Edinburgh.

Norwegian defender Kristoffer Ajer in action for Celtic earlier this season - Credit: PA

Another centre-back is likely to be on the Premier League shopping list for Norwich City this summer and the first defensive name may have just entered the frame.

Kristoffer Ajer of Celtic and Norway has been linked with the Canaries ahead of a summer transfer window which is expected to be busy, with promotion from the Championship already secured.

Newcastle United have launched an enquiry for the 23-year-old, according to transfer news website CaughtOffside.com, who claim that Norwich have also "registered an interest in signing him".

Ajer has made 173 appearances for Celtic since joining from Norwegian club IK Start as a teenager, making 16 appearances in the Scottish Premiership while on loan at Kilmarnock during his first campaign in Scotland.

As well as winning 21 international caps the defender has won three Scottish titles, two Scottish Cups and two Scottish League Cups with the Hoops, prior to Rangers reemerging as the dominant force this season.

He has remained a regular during a tumultuous season and has had stints in midfield and at right-back previously, with a contract at Celtic Park soon to enter its final 12 months.

The Norwegian stands at close to 6ft 5ins tall and only one defender has a better pass success rate than his 88.4pc in the Scottish top flight so far this season, suggesting he could fit the Canaries' style.

AC MIlan's head coach Stefano Pioli has previously admitted to an interest in Ajer and the Italian side reportedly had a bid turned down last year, with Newcastle also linked in the past.

VERDICT: City will hope to have a central defensive pairing which is good enough for the Premier League in captain Grant Hanley and Ben Gibson but both have had injury issues in the past, with Gibson currently recovering from recent ankle surgery but his loan from Burnely set to be made permanent for £8million in a pre-arranged deal.

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Christoph Zimmermann is in a similar position, of having shown his ability at times but also having injury issues, and is currently working his way back from a hamstring problem.

Irish 18-year-old Andrew Omobamidele has stepped in admirably in recent weeks to get his first taste of senior experience and Akin Famewo has been impressing in League One for loan club Charlton, but has also been hampered by injury issues.

Timm Klose, who turns 33 this summer, has spent the season on loan back home in Switzerland and has been playing regularly for Basel but joined with a view to a permanent deal.

After a defensive injury crisis caused such problems during the 2019-20 Premier League season for Farke, strength in depth in that area will undoubtedly be among the priorities for sporting director Stuart Webber - with defensive strength having been so crucial to bouncing back at the first attempt.

So Ajer is unlikely to be the last centre-back linked with the Canaries in the months to come, with his age, experience and contract situation making him a realistic candidate for a side promoted to the Premier League.

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