Norwich City are set to pose Ange Postecoglou the first big managerial question of his Celtic career.
Canaries boss Daniel Farke has been keen on the Hoops’ Norwegian internationalist Kristoffer Ajer for the best part of six months.
Now, flush from his success in getting Billy Gilmour signed up on loan, he is keen to steal a march on Ajer’s other admirers, Newcastle and Bayer Leverkusen, by tabling a bid in excess of £10 million.
Such a figure would give Celtic’s new manager a decision to make.
He will know that in an ideal world his new employers would be looking for more for a player who perfectly fits the buy-cheap, sell-dear model they have long pursued.
However, with the 23-year-old defender out of contract next summer and the European transfer market deflated following almost 18 months of the coronavirus pandemic, he will also be aware that it is a buyer’s market.
Celtic have just recently been reminded of that fact by Leicester City’s move to cool their interest in Odsonne Edouard.
The Hoops, who will have to pay Paris Saint-Germain 50% on any fee received over £10m under the terms of a sell-on clause, had hoped to get £25m for the French striker.
That was too rich for former Celtic Park boss Brendan Rodgers who instead instructed Leicester to push the button on the £23m capture of Zambian striker Patson Daka from Red Bull Salzburg.
While Postecoglou insisted at his opening press conference he would not rule out keeping both Edouard and Ajer this season, the economic reality is that at least one will need to be sold in this window.
If not, Celtic would face the embarrassing prospect of the pair signing pre-contracts with other clubs in January then leaving for nothing next summer.
Ajer, who has is wanted elsewhere and has made no secret of his willingness to leave Glasgow’s East End for a new challenge, would look an obvious one to offload.
The Hoops’ boss has already shown his desire to get stuck into a defensive rebuild through the signing of Osaze Urhoghide from Sheffield Wednesday on a four-year deal.
The 20-year-old, who was out of contract, is able to play either at right-back or in the middle of the back line.
Like Liam Shaw, the 20-year-old midfielder who Celtic also snapped up from Sheffield Wednesday, he will offer the manager different options to pursue as he seeks to introduce the squad to the way he wants the team to play.
The Hoops’ new chief executive, Dominic McKay, has spoken convincingly of the board’s determination to make ample funds available to the manager for the bid to win back the title from Rangers next season.
It stands to reason, though, that any extra revenue coming in would allow additional cash to spend on fresh additions to the squad.
That especially holds true for their Ibrox rivals with Porto edging their way towards completing the capture of Gers striker Alfredo Morelos for a fee likely to be approaching £15m.
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