Brentford boss Thomas Frank heaps praise on club’s record £17.5m signing Kristoffer Ajer after slotting seamlessly into defence and guiding Bees to second successive clean sheet
- Thomas Frank heaps praise on Brentford’s record signing Kristoffer Ajer
- The centre-back joined the Bees in a £17.5million deal from Celtic this summer
- Ajer has slotted seamlessly into Frank’s defence in a short space of time
- The 23-year-old helped the newly-promotted side keep a second clean sheet
Thomas Frank praised summer signing Kristoffer Ajer after he inspired Brentford to a second successive Premier League clean sheet at Crystal Palace.
Centre-back Ajer joined Brentford from Celtic in a club record £17.5m deal and it looks like being money well spent.
The Norwegian, 23, has slotted seamlessly into Frank’s defence and only increased their determination to keep the ball out of their net.
Thomas Frank (right) heaps praise on Brentford’s record signing Kristoffer Ajer (left)
On a couple of occasions against Crystal Palace Ajer celebrated defensive actions as if they were goals, letting out a defiant roar after one successful tackle and then bumping chests with Sergi Canos when they saw out another moment of danger in the second half.
Frank said: ‘It [Ajer’s attitude to defending] is very important. You also need different characters.
‘Ethan Pinnock is the mountain but he is very quiet as a person. And Kristoffer is a little bit more vocal and more extrovert and you need sometimes that to drive the team. It was fantastic to see. I liked the last action between Sergi and Kristoffer and chest-bumped and celebrated like a goal. That is fantastic. It says a lot about the character in the team.
Ajer helped the Bees pull off a memorable win over Arsenal on the Premier League debut
Ajer was then at the heart of the Bees defence when they kept a clean sheet against Palace
‘Kristoffer I am more pleased with him. He grew into it. He defended very well. Also had some good actions on the ball so I think he took a step in the right direction.’
Ajer won nine trophies in his four full seasons at Celtic and Frank said: ‘It is important to bring that winning mentality and the right characters that want to win and want to do everything.
‘I think we are a team full of really, really good characters who want to leave their hearts out there. I think that is a big thing in our relative success so far but Kristoffer, top character, top mentality. Still young, still a lot of things to learn defensively and offensively but really, really important to us.’
Brentford are famed for their ability to develop players and significantly multiply their value and expect to do the same with Ajer who has made the same move south after starring in Scotland for Celtic just like Virgil van Dijk.
Ajer had spent the last five years at Celtic, winning the ‘Treble Treble’ between 2018 and 2020
Frank said: ‘It is a big comparison with maybe the best centre-back in the world but Kristoffer certainly has huge potential.
‘He has got the character, he has got the ability on the ball – you could see that when he was striving forward – he is also running forward and I want that from my outside centre-backs.
‘And now he has to build and learn all the extra layers of this.’
With the help of his No 2, Frank is confident he will.
The Norwegian has slotted seamlessly into Frank’s (pictured) defence in a short space of time
The Brentford manager said: ‘I mean to praise the three of them [his back three of Ajer, Pontus Jansson and Pinnock] and also praise Bryan Riemer my assistant manager, the master or professor of the defensive art who is drilling it into them every day of the week and I think Pontus put it perfectly.
‘We came in Monday after we beat Arsenal [and he said]: “What is this angry, aggressive bulldog that we call Brian. We got a clean sheet against Arsenal and we still want more.”
‘I think that is the attitude we want to develop.’