Albian Ajeti reveals why Barcelona fending off was easy as Celtic striker raves about ‘perfect’ new club


Albian Ajeti believes it was a cinch to push Barcelona back but he couldn’t say no to Celtic.The Swiss striker last completed his £ 5million transfer from West Ham and revealed he snubbed the possibility of moving to Camp Nou as a child.

Ajeti and his twin brother Adonis spent a few days with the Catalan giants when they were teenagers, but decided to stay with Basel instead.

The forward is not a man who makes big decisions lightly and he spent a week weighing his future before a conversation with Neil Lennon made the case happen.

Ajeti said: “Yes, Barcelona wanted me and my twin brother when we were 16.

“They were interested in signing us both. It was not a trial but it lasted a few days and was shown in the Barcelona academy and trained with them.

“But in the end, we decided to stay in Switzerland with the Basel academy.

“People say it’s hard to say no to Barcelona but not at this age, to be fair. When you’re young, you want to be with your family, with your brothers and friends, so it wasn’t that hard to say no.

“My brother wanted to do it, but we finally decided to continue what we were doing in Switzerland.

“It worked well for us.”

It was more difficult to turn down Celtic after the big sale of Lennon and Nicky Hammond.

Ajeti said: “For me it was important that the boss and sporting director Nick Hammond showed me a lot of interest.

“It was also important for me to feel that I would be an important player if I was going to sign for a club as big as Celtic.

“It was important. But when you have the chance to play for them, with all the tradition they have and the history of this football club and the fans that they have, I’m happy.

Ajeti can’t wait to play with former Basel teammate Moi Elyounoussi – but old friend Cedric Itten is off the Christmas card list.

The couple came through the same academy and were close friends.

But Ajeti insists that they are now the best enemies after Itten’s move to Rangers and his move to Celts.

He said: “We were good friends in the academy so it’s weird that we’re rivals now.”

“But it’s football.

“Shall I meet him in Glasgow?” I do not think so!

“I know Me, obviously we talked and he tried to sign me for Celtic.

“It wasn’t necessary though. I didn’t need to be persuaded to sign for such a big club. We talked more about the city and life here in Glasgow.

Ajeti may have taken a few days to decide to get on board, but he is determined to make up for lost time after a frustrating season at West Ham after his £ 8million move from Basel last summer.

The 23-year-old had high hopes when he landed in London but boss Manuel Pellegrino was kicked and David Moyes was battling fires at the foot of the Premier League table.

Ajeti got lost in the wash and has only made nine under-appearances all season.

But – just like Barca’s decision – the hitman has no regrets and insisted Celtic get a better player at the end of their year with the Hammers.

Ajeti said: “It was a good experience. I would say it was a year of learning, of mental improvement. I didn’t play as much as I expected so it was a learning year. It’s not always easy to sign for a football club when there are changes like we did last year at West Ham.

“It’s hard to say because you don’t know what could have happened. I just think the job I did there was good, but every coach has a different football system and you have to understand that because not everyone is the same.

“It’s always difficult for a new manager to get the most out of the team. It’s football. ”

“But it’s like that and I’m happy to be at Celtic. ”

Lennon didn’t need to do a lot of selling work on the forward. A fresh start and a Champions League crack was a decent sweetener after getting a taste of the big stage with Basel.

Ajeti said: “There is no better place to play Champions League football than Celtic, with these fans.

“Unfortunately the fans can’t watch us right now, but when they come back there won’t be anywhere better.

“The atmosphere in the stadium will be incredible and it would be great to play matches with the Champions.”

Ajeti has taken an interesting path through life and football. Born in Kosovo, his Albanian family had to flee during the Balkan war and resettle in Switzerland.

He’s been styled by Switzerland but still cherishes his legacy – and knows all about Albanian President Ilir Meta’s love for the club.

Ajeti said: “Celtic are known all over the world, but especially where I come from.

“The people of Kosovo Albania really support Celtic, so I’ve known Celtic since I was little.

“They have a fan base there and the Albanian president is a big fan so we grew up knowing the club.

“It’s the perfect club for me.”


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