THE capture of Albian Ajeti will enable Neil Lennon to revert to the 3-5-2 formation that proved so effective for Celtic in the second half of last season and helped to ensure they landed their ninth consecutive Scottish title, it was last night predicted.

Ajeti, the Swiss striker who has endured a frustrating season on the sidelines at West Ham in England, arrived in Glasgow yesterday to undergo a medical and finalise his much-anticipated move to the Parkhead club.

The defending Premiership champions, who are bidding to complete 10-In-A-Row in the 2020/21 campaign, are in need of a lift after a difficult few days. They dropped two points in their second league game against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on Sunday. Then they had two games postponed for breaches of Covid-19 protocol.

However, Beni Huggel, the former Basel and Switzerland midfielder who now works as a pundit with national broadcaster SRF in his homeland, believes Celtic should be delighted to have secured the services of his compatriot.

Huggel was a player at St Jakob Park when Ajeti was coming through the youth ranks there and he immediately recognised a special talent. He has not been at all surprised to see him go on and flourish for both club and country since. He has no doubts the forward will do well in the coming months.

“Albian is a skilful guy,” he said. “He has a lot of determination and a good mindset. He always wants to win, always wants to get the most he can out of a game. He is also good technically and can shoot with both feet. He isn’t the tallest striker, just six foot or so. But he is a good header of the ball.

“He plays with a lot of emotion. When he was at Basel the fans loved him because he always gave the impression of giving everything that he had for the team. He had a great attitude. I think the Celtic supporters will like him.

“Albian is of Albanian descent. After the war in Yugoslavia in the 1990s a lot of people from the Balkan states moved to Switzerland and a lot of Albanians live here now. They have a different style from Swiss people, but they are accepted. They are hard workers. That is certainly a trait of Albian’s play.

“He had a lot of good games with Basel and won his move to West Ham. But he has had a lot of competition for a place in England and hasn’t played. The Premier League is the biggest in the world. Sometimes that happens in football.

“I think going to Celtic is a good step for him. They are a big club and are always at the top of the league. He will get a lot of chances to score there. He is a really good striker and should take them.”

Many Celtic fans are keen to see Lennon return to the twin strikeforce that caused their domestic rivals so many problems when they came back after the winter break last season. Huggel feels Ajeti is perfectly suited to that system.

“Albian is at his best when he is playing in a two man front line with another striker,” he said. “He senses where space is between the centre half and the right or left back or the defence and the defensive midfielders. He can play as a lone striker in a 4-3-3, but he is better in a 3-5-2.”

Ajeti’s unhappy stint at the London Stadium – he only featured in 12 first team games for West Ham and failed to find the target in any of them after his £8m transfer – has jeopardised his place in the Switzerland side.

Huggel believes that Cedric Itten, who Rangers signed from St Gallen for £3m last week, has edged ahead of him in the pecking order and is fascinated to see how the pair fare in Scotland in the coming months.

“Albian played some games for Switzerland before he moved to West Ham,” he said. “But you can’t play as a striker for our national team if you aren’t playing for your club. We have Haris Seferovic of Benfica and Mario Gavranovic of Dinamo Zagreb. Cedric Itten, who has just moved to Rangers, also made his debut for his country last year and did well.

“Cedric and Albian are the same age and came through the youth side at Basel together. When they were 18 the club bosses decided that Albian was ahead of Cedric. But Cedric worked on his physique and his mentality and has done well since.

“At the moment, I think he is ahead of his old team mate in the Switzerland set-up. But if Albian can score some goals for Celtic it will be interesting.”

There are huge expectations of the Celtic players this season with an historic achievement tantalisingly within their grasp. Huggel is confident that Ajeti won’t be fazed by the demands of supporters or the scrutiny of the media.

“In the last 15 or 20 years Basel have had a lot of domestic success and some good European experiences,” he said. “The crowd at St Jakob Park is very demanding. They will be unhappy at half-time if the score is still 0-0. I think having experienced that will help Albian to handle the pressure at Celtic.”

Huggel wasn’t involved in Basel’s memorable Champions League matches against Celtic back in 2002 because he was out injured. But he can vividly recall a double header which his club won on away goals after the scoreline finished 3-3 on aggregate. In particular, he can remember the opposition player who passed up a late sitter.

“There was a striker in the Celtic side who missed a shot at goal in the 90th minute of the second leg,” he said. “Everybody in Basel knows his name to this day! It was Chris Sutton. He should have scored and sent his team through.”

Beni Huggel fully expects Albian Ajeti to convert the majority of opportunities that fall to him at Celtic in the 2020/21 campaign.