Start boss Steinar Pedersen insists Kristoffer Ajer can handle Celtic demands

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IK Start manager Steinar Pedersen insists Kristoffer Ajer is an old head on young shoulders after backing the teenager to handle the demands of playing for Celtic.

The midfielder sealed his £800,000 four-year deal to the Hoops on Wednesday and will link up with Ronny Deila’s side in June after playing the first four months of the Norwegian season with Start.

And even though Pedersen concedes that the 17-year-old, who impressed on trial last month, is far from being the finished article, the former Borussia Dortmund defender insists Celtic have bought a top player.

kristofferajer
Ajer has rejoined in his Start team-mates for time being

Pedersen, speaking to Capital City Press, said: “Celtic are getting a really talented 17-year-old with a strong mentality.

“He’s got great character but still he has to learn and it will be interesting to follow him when he makes the move.

“It will take some time for him to adapt to the level, to the tempo, to the quality of play but everything around the pressure, these kind of things –  if there’s a young guy that can handle it, it’s Kristoffer.

“He’s been a good young player for some time and he also has good experience from last season when he played quite a bit.

“As a young player, he’s got the character and the mentality to do it.

“I don’t know that much about the level in Scotland compared to Norway but he will probably need some time.

“He is working hard all the time and always trying to improve, so he has that good character.”

Ajer was yesterday due to link back up with his Start team-mates on their pre-season camp in La Manga and Pedersen is confident the youngster will remain focussed for the Norwegian top-flight outfit until June.

Pedersen added: “That’s something we’ll need to discuss with Kristoffer but he has the character.

“Of course he has to perform in our team. We know we can use him until June 10.

“Hopefully Kristoffer will be fully motivated and hard-working. If he shows me the right things, I’ll have no concerns but he has to compete in our team as well.”

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