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At only 17, IK Start midfielder Kristoffer Ajer has attracted interest from some of the biggest clubs in England. Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham have all shown interest in the 1,96m tall Norwegian youngster – and a move to the Premier League might be on the cards this summer.
Name: Kristoffer Ajer
Club: IK Start
The Norwegian press have already called for him to become 2015’s version of Martin Ødegaard by taking the next step and become a regular for Norway’s international team – something Ødegaard managed last year at the age of only 15. Now the latter plays at Real Madrid alongside the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.
What makes Ajer special is the fact that he is different. Talented midfielders today are often described to be fairly short, very skilful and have quick feet – like Andres Iniesta at Barcelona or David Silva at Manchester City. Among Ajer’s key features are his height and physique, much like his biggest idol Patrick Vieira.
The similarities between the two are incredible, as Ajer has adopted Vieira’s drive with the ball and ability to read and control a game, even at young age at the highest level in Norway.
Despite being too young to watch Vieira in his prime, Ajer has spent hours on YouTube watching clips of his French idol, who retired in 2011 after a successful career at top clubs across Europe like Arsenal, Juventus, Inter and Manchester City.
Ajer got his debut in July 2014, at only 16 years and 93 days. A couple of months later he became the third youngest goalscorer in Tippeligaen history, and he ended the 2014 season with 604 minutes on the pitch.
His development continued throughout the winter break and the first half of the current season. Ajer has been involved every game this season, starting 12 of the 13 league matches so far.
The 17-year-old has scored four goals and been one of the best youngsters in Tippeligaen this season.
In early May Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and German club Hertha Berlin sent scouts to Norway to watch Ajer play for Start away to Rosenborg. Start lost 2-3, but Ajer impressed in his attacking midfielder position by scoring Start’s second goal of the game.
Also Roma has shown interest in Ajer, and invited him to the Italian capital for a week earlier in 2015. The visit impressed Ajer, but he revealed to Norwegian press that his dream is to play in England for his favourite club Liverpool.
“My ultimate dream is to enter the pitch against Manchester United and hear the fans sing You’ll Never Walk Alone before kick off,” he said in March.
With Liverpool already interested, who knows what can happen in the summer transfer window?
Written by Lars H. Thomesen
Follow Lars on Twitter @LarsHT
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