Report: Premier League trio plot summer swoop for Celtic 22-year-old
By Will Butcher
Newly promoted Newcastle are set to enter a hotly-contested race to sign Celtic defender Jozo Simunovic, according to a report.
The Mail claims Celtic slapped a £9million price tag on the 22-year-old defender in January, but that has not put off a whole host of suitors from around Europe.
It is believed that Premier League duo West Brom and Crystal Palace are also keen, while Sevilla, Espanyol, Torino and RB Leipzig will test Celtic’s resolve in the summer for Simunovic.
The defender came within a whisker of signing for Serie A side Torino last summer in a deal worth £3.75million, but it collapsed at the eleventh hour as the Italians changed their mind.
However, Brendan Rodgers is unlikely to entertain any offers according to the report, as he looks to bolster his side and keep his star players ahead of a Champions League campaign.
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Simunovic has starred this season for the Hoops, producing a commanding performance at the back alongside Derdyck Boyata on Saturday as Rodgers’ side beat rivals Rangers 5-1 at Ibrox.
The former Dinamo Zagreb defender’s highlight of the match was a huge tackle on Gers veteran Kenny Miller, as the Bhoys dominated proceedings.
Pushing aside a knee injury earlier in the season, Celtic’s number five has kept a huge 17 clean sheets in 29 league and cup appearances this season as the Hoops close in on a treble.
Football Insider verdict:
Rafa Benitez has four top centre-backs available to him at St. James’ Park. Captain Jamaal Lascelles has shown maturity way beyond his years, while Ciaran Clark and Chancel Mbemba have both partnered him with success this season. Grant Hanley has been made to wait for a chance in the side, but still possesses the quality needed to play in England’s top flight. Although the former Liverpool and Real Madrid boss is likely to target other areas of his squad first, Simunovic would be a top signing and would instantly become the Toon’s number once centre-back. However, it would spell the end of Hanley’s frustrating spell on Tyneside.
In other Newcastle transfer news, this is the huge amount of money Alan Shearer needs to improve the Toon into a top-flight side.