Newcastle’s pursuit of Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer has hit some rough terrain as Bayer Leverkusen now have the Norwegian firmly in their sights. The Bundesliga club’s increasing interest could prove fatal if it results in a bidding war.
Newcastle had hoped to seal a quick move for Ajer for a bargain fee in the range of £6-8m. With funds limited and the player’s representatives shopping him around, Newcastle may be forced to turn to other targets.
There is seemingly no shortage of young center-backs on Newcastle’s wishlist. We’ve been linked with moves for Tottenham’s Cameron Carter-Vickers, Chelsea’s Marc Guehi, Vitesse’s Danilho Doekhi, Vitoria’s Abdul Mumin, Queens Park Rangers’ Rob Dickie, Liverpool’s Nat Phillips, and Ozan Kabak, who will return to Schalke after his loan spell with the Rds, among others.
90min has an exclusive adding another Celtic defender to the list in Jack Hendry (pictured above playing for Scotland). However, Hendry will not remain in Parkhead much longer.
The Scotland international spent last season on loan with Belgium’s Oostende where he resurrected his career after a nightmarish couple of years with Celtic. Oostende will reportedly will trigger their £2m purchase option on the 26-year-old.
Their hope is to then strike while the iron is hot and sell him to the highest bidder with Burnley, Newcastle, Crystal Palace, Leeds, West Brom, and Sheffield United all expressing interest in Hendry.
The towering defender started in Scotland’s 2-2 draw against The Netherlands on Wednesday scoring his first international goal in the 10th minute. He was deployed on the right side of a back three. Oostende also play in a back three with the 6’4″ defender generally in the middle.
Hendry made 30 appearances with 2 goals and 1 assist in Belgium last term. He is outstanding in the air and just turned 26 on May 7th. He likely is down the list of Newcastle targets but could raise his profile even more during the European Championships.
That, of course, doesn’t suit Newcastle as it will only serve to raise his fee. Newcastle have completed a transfer recently. In 2019, Emil Krafth had his purchase option of around £2.5m was triggered by Amiens. Newcastle then ended up paying almost double for the Swede a few months later.
There could be a lot of wrangling this summer before Newcastle settle on a new center-back to bring in. The clincher could be Newcastle getting the best possible deal which may ultimately rule out a move for Hendry.