The Celtic new signing is already proving his critics wrong, putting up some remarkable stats in his time with the Scottish champions so far.
At the start of the 2020/21 season at Parkhead, it was essential that Celtic secure another striker to bolster their forward ranks to soften the goal-burden on star man Odsonne Edouard. Coupled with manager Neil Lennon favouring a 3-5-2 system, Albian Ajeti entered the picture after a £5 million transfer from West Ham. Doubtlessly, the 23-year-old has made an outstanding contribution to his new side so far.
So why exactly has Ajeti made such an instant impact at Celtic so far?
Primarily, it is very straightforward to define what type of centre-forward the Swiss international resembles. Simply put, he is a goal-poacher and a very high calibre one at that.
Out of his 5 goals in 9 appearances this campaign, all but one of his efforts have been inside the box. Anticipation is perhaps his standout trait, as three of those goals specifically against Ross County, Hibernian and Dundee United all evolved from second balls. Using quick-thinking, Ajeti has been able to dispatch openings that other domestic strikers potentially would not be able to initially conceive.
Additionally, he possesses a killer-instinct in front of the target. Ajeti has an internal belief in himself to strike the ball early, and more importantly holds the finishing capability required to hit the back of the net. This causes opposition defenders and goalkeepers to be flatfooted, unsurprisingly leaving Ajeti with a goal every 48 minutes in domestic competitions for Celtic thus far.
Whilst he has also been able to turn on the style with elegant finishes against Motherwell and Livingston alike, made even more remarkable when he is still in fact not fully match fit.
Predictable comparisons with former Hoops hero Gary Hooper have already came to attention within media circles and fans alike due to Ajeti’s natural flair in front of goal. However, it’s important not to overlook his capacities out with goal conversion.
Having a striker who can create space for others is a vital commodity of the modern era, Ajeti did just that in the Celtic’s Europa League third round tie away to Latvian champions Riga which crucially allowed for Mohamed Elyounoussi to successfully occupy the space and fire Celtic into the play-off berths in a 1-0 win.
Furthermore Ajeti can link the play commendably, with a pass accuracy so far of 84% he rarely loses the ball against his opponent, which in exemplary fashion lead to Callum McGregor equalising at home to Livingston in a game the Celts went on to triumph 3-2. Competent as a lone frontman or in a pairing, he has been possibly the biggest encouraging story of Celtic’s season so far.
Scoring 63% of all attempts at goal, Ajeti has been nothing short of clinical in the green and white Hoops. Neil Lennon will hope he recovers in timely fashion for the Glasgow Derby next month after sustaining an injury against Hibernian on Sunday afternoon.