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Jozo Simunovic claims he was denied his Celtic "wish"

David Walton June 15, 2020
Jozo Simunovic claims he was denied his Celtic "wish"
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Former Celtic defender Jozo Simunovic has stated that he was denied his “wish” to stick around for a tilt at 10-in-a-row.

The Croatian-born centre-back was at Parkhead for five years, signing in the summer of 2015 as part of Ronny Deila’s second-season recruitment drive.

However, despite making 126 appearances for the club during that five-year spell (Transfermarkt), Celtic refused to take up the option of an additional year on his contract.

And, speaking to the Scottish Sun, Simunovic was clearly hurting at the decision.

“It’s a bit weird as I was at Celtic for five years and was a good part of the success. My wish was to stay for one more year minimum, as we have a good chance to do something historic. To win ten in a row would be a great achievement and I’d remember it for the rest of my life.

“Was I surprised to leave? I need to look at the whole situation in football right now and everything isn’t great with covid-19. It was the club’s decision and I need to accept it. They are looking at everything as a business.

“What can I do? Of course I can say I am angry and sad that I am not at Celtic for next season. But I cannot change that. It’s the club’s decision and I need to respect it.”

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Simunovic was no longer a safe option

When Brendan Rodgers arrived at the club back in 2016, Simunovic seemed to thrive. He was regularly selected for big matches and barely let the team down.

However, over the last 12 months, it hasn’t really been a year to remember for Jozo. He only made 16 appearances, with injury problems again ruling him out for a large chunk of the campaign. Despite featuring in six of Celtic’s Champions League qualifying matches, he only appeared in one of their six Europa League group stage contests (Transfermarkt).

Yet again injury woes had curtailed the Croatian. And he didn’t help matters when he effectively threw the last-32 tie against Copenhagen with a shocking back-pass that set the tone for the evening.

Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Celtic were in a position this summer where they had to really judge Simunovic’s worth to the first-team squad. Clubs up and down the country will be looking to make cuts where necessary. Was Simunovic really so valuable to the cause this season? It would be stretching it to suggest he was.

However, there is no denying that Celtic now need a replacement. Outside of Kristoffer Ajer and Christopher Jullien, centre-back options are thin on the ground for Neil Lennon. Nir Bitton is an option, but outside of the unfavoured Jack Hendry, there are no real alternatives.

So expect Simunovic to be replaced this summer. Celtic can’t really consider doing anything else.

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David is a keen writer who's always looking to engage readers in his content. He has a strong knowledge of Scottish and English football - writing content on the Scottish game since the beginning of his studies in 2014.