Celtic striker Albian Ajeti is currently on loan with Austrian side Sturm Graz and came off the bench to score against WSG Tirol in a 2-0 win for his temporary employers prior to the international break.
It had been reported this week that Ajeti would be returning to Celtic and that Sturm Graz had decided against paying the 2.5m Euros it will take to make the option to buy attached a permanent arrangement, however Strum Graz sports director Andreas Schicker as reported in Glasgow Times has contradicted some of those reports somewhat by stating no such decision will be taken until the end of the season.
“We still have time until just after the end of the season to take up the option of buying him. And we certainly won’t let ourselves be stressed about it now. We’ll wait for the remaining games in the championship group and then make a decision. Until then, we will be in constant contact with his advisor in order to constantly reassess the situation.”
Prior to scoring against Tirol Ajeti had been out injured for over a month, something which also plagued his time with Celtic following his £4.5m move from West Ham. However, the Swiss striker showed he still has a scoring touch with Sturm Graz second goal with five minutes left to play.
That strike was only Ajeti’s fourth goal in 18 appearances for the Austrian side, and if Albian has hopes of making the move to Austria a permanent arrangement, a continuation of that goalscoring form may be required to persuade Graz to sign Ajeti this summer.
That’s really Albian Ajeti’s best hope for playing regular football at the moment as his Celtic career certainly looks all bar over, despite the player still having a year left on his Celtic contract at the end of this season.
Ajeti arrived with a good scoring reputation from his time with FC Basel scoring 43 goals in 96 games as well as making a further 21 assists, however the move to West Ham didn’t work out – although only 12 appearances made would indicate the player wasn’t really given a chance to shine with the East London club.
Celtic took an expensive punt on Ajeti, but a return of only nine goals and five assists across 46 appearances is not the sort of return expected of any Celtic striker. And after just six starts for Celtic under Ange Postecoglou it would be fair to say the Swiss striker falls into the underwhelming category as a Celtic player.
As such Celtic will be hoping Albian Ajeti can hit a run of goalscoring form before the end of the season and perhaps persuade Sturm Graz – or possibly alternative suitors – that the Swiss international still has the goals in his locker which any striker needs to evidence on a far more regular basis than Ajeti has in recent seasons.
With Celtic having the exceptional Kyogo as first choice striker and with January signing Hyeongyu Oh scoring at the weekend against Hibs, and looking a more than trustworthy alternative option, Ajeti would return to Celtic this summer well down the striking pecking order at Celtic.
The Hoops have little chance of recouping the entire outlay they paid when signing Ajeti from West Ham, however, there remains hope that at least some of the cash we did spend can be clawed back, should Ajeti persuade Sturm Graz that he is worth the fee attached to the option to buy agreed last summer.
Ajeti has played the vast majority of matches for Sturm Graz when he’s been available for selection and also performed in the Europa League for Graz. Therefore, there is still a possibility Ajeti has done enough to persuade Graz to make the move a permanent arrangement.
However, a few more goals at the business end of the season may be required to convince his Austrian employers entirely, and allow Celtic to draw a line under a most disappointing and expensive acquisition.
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