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The 22-year-old is also wanted by AC Milan, but the French club are in need of a new centre-back after seeing Dante ruled out through injury

Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer has been highlighted as a January target for French side Nice, Goal understands.

The Ligue 1 side are in the hunt for a new centre-back after seeing Brazilian veteran Dante suffer a cruciate ligament injury in November.

Nice confirmed on Friday that the 37-year-old has signed a contract extension, but he could be out for the remainder of the campaign.

“Yes, we are at work to recruit a defender,” director of football Julien Fournier told RMC Sport. 

“It’s easy to take a player but we are looking for specific characteristics and not just adding a player to the team.”

Norway international Ajer fits that profile and the French club have been impressed by the 22-year-old, whose contract at Celtic runs until 2022.

Nice will have to match Celtic’s asking price, however, which is thought to be around €13 million (£12m/$16m).

They could also face competition as AC Milan have been heavily linked to Ajer for several months.

Although a natural central defender, Ajer has been used at right-back on occasion at Celtic.

Ajer joined the Scottish giants from Norwegian side Start in 2016 and spent a brief spell on loan at Kilmarnock the following year.

He has made 153 appearances for the club in all competitions, helping them to three Premiership and League Cup titles as well as two Scottish Cups.

But Neil Lennon’s side have had a difficult start to the 2020-21 campaign. They finished bottom of their Europa League group with just one win from six matches, having beaten Lille 3-2 in the final round of fixtures.

They are also second in the Scottish top flight with 10 wins from 15 games, leaving them 13 points behind fierce rivals Rangers, though Steven Gerrard’s team have played two more matches.

Nice, meanwhile, also finished bottom of their Europa League pool and are 11th in Ligue 1 after a rough start to the season that saw Patrick Vieira fired from his role as coach at the start of December.

Nice won for the first time in nine matches on Wednesday when they beat Nimes 2-0.

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December 19, 2020
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