By Tom Blackburn

Torino are hoping to secure the £4.5million transfer of Celtic defender Jozo Simunovic next week, according to a report.

Sky Italy journalist Gianluca di Marzio claimed on his website on Wednesday that the Croatian defender was being lined up as a replacement for Nikola Maksimovic, who is on the verge of a £20million transfer to Napoli.

The defender told the Scottish Daily Record the following day that he knew nothing of the deal and that he was only thinking about Celtic.

Mail Online now claim Torino have notified Celtic of their interest in the defender and are keen to finalise a £4.5million transfer as early as next week.

The Serie A club have targeted the centre-back as a potential replacement for Maksimovic moves to Napoli.

Celtic’s number 5 joined the Scottish champions from Dinamo Zagreb last summer for £6million, but he hasn’t played since January due to a serious knee injury.

To the delight of Hoops fans, in Thursday’s interview with the Daily Record, the defender revealed that he will return to training in a matter of days.

“Next week I finally join the team, and after a long injury return to normal training.”

The 22-year-old played 18 times in the first half of the 2015-16 season for Celtic and earned high praise as the club began their bid for a fifth consecutive title.

Having won the Scottish Premiership last season, they are now bidding for their six straight title but face stiff competition with Rangers returning to the top flight.

If Simunovic, who has represented his country from under-14 to under-21 level, remains at the club he could partner new signing Kolo Toure at centre-back in the near future. Manager Brendan Rodgers has also signed Moussa Dembele, Kristoffer Ajer and Scott Sinclair.

In other Celtic transfer news, they have lined up a move for a Dutch player of the season.