By Harry Sykes
Torino have made Celtic defender Jozo Simunovic their No1 January transfer target, according to a report.
The Scottish Sun claim the Serie A outfit, who have Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart in their ranks, are preparing another swoop for the centre-back after failing to land him during the summer.
It is said that manager Sinisa Mihajlovic has been promised funds in the January market to lift the side from their position of ninth in the table.
Simunovic, 22, was set for a £4million late August move to Torino but the deal broke down at the eleventh hour after the Italians tried to change the structure of the payments and raised concerns about a knee injury he suffered last season.
In a statement released via his personal Twitter account, the Croatian subsequently denied that the move fell through because he failed a medical and insisted that he would put the failed move behind him and concentrate on giving his best for Celtic.
— Jozo Šimunović (@SimunovicJozo) September 1, 2016
Simunovic has recovered from the knee injury that sidelined him for much of his debut campaign and has been a mainstay of Brendan Rodgers’ high-flying side in the last two months.
The former Croatia Under-21 international has formed a solid partnership at the back with Erik Sviatchenko and has begun to justify the £6million fee spent to prise him from Dinamo Zagreb in the summer of 2015.
Rodgers has made no attempt to hide his admiration for the young centre-back.
“He is a big talent,” said Rodgers. “If you look at his profile, he is 6ft 3in, he is very dominant, strong, quick, can serve the ball and for a young player shows a wonderful mentality.
“He is a player I really like and hopefully he can stay fit.”
Simunovic was one of only three Celtic players to keep their places in the side that hosted Partick Thistle in the Scottish Premiership on Tuesday night as Rodgers made eight changes from the weekend.
Scott Sinclair put the home side ahead as they led 1-0 at half-time to stay on course for a win that would lift them 14 points clear of second-placed Rangers with a game in hand.
In other Celtic transfer news, the club’s midfielder move has been placed on ice.