Celtic are planning to offer defender Jozo Simunovic a new contract as they attempt to secure his long-term future at the club.
The Daily Record reported that the Hoops are likely to offer the 25-year-old a new deal at Celtic Park, with Neil Lennon eager to hold on to the Croatian defender, who has two years left on his current contract.
Simunovic appeared to be on his way out of the club recently, with Football Insider claiming earlier this month that he had agreed personal terms with Lille ahead of a proposed transfer, but he remains with the Scottish champions for now.
He was suspended for the Hoops’ first two Premiership matches this season after being sent off in a pre-season friendly against St Gallen but started all six of their Champions League qualifying games, having gone off with a minor injury in the 1-1 draw with CFR Cluj in Romania.
The 25-year-old has had more than his fair share of injury concerns during his time with Celtic, having been sidelined for nearly eight months with a knee injury in 2016 and also missing a large chunk of last season with knee problems.
Simunovic has not had the easiest start to this season with his domestic suspension and an unconvincing performance in the 3-4 defeat to CFR Cluj on Tuesday night.
Ryan Brown of Read Celtic felt that the Croatian “was a bit all over the place in his defending“, while The Scottish Sun‘s David Friel noted that a “couple of slack passes set the tone for a difficult first half for Celtic” in that game.
For Simunovic to have been so erratic in possession on Tuesday was uncharacteristic of him. In Celtic’s last two European campaigns prior to 2019/20, he has achieved a passing success rate of 94% or higher (as per WhoScored).
He has also shown himself to be adept at cutting out opposition attacks, averaging 1.3 tackles and 3.3 interceptions per game in the Hoops’ Europa League fixtures last season.
Celtic currently have a few options at the heart of their defence with Simunovic, Kristoffer Ajer and youngster Jack Hendry joined by Christopher Jullien over the summer, new arrival Hatem Abd Elhamed also able to play centre-back and Nir Bitton being deployed there in their first two Premiership games.
However, with Lille still keen on Simunovic (according to the Daily Record) and Ajer attracting interest from AC Milan (as per Tuttomercatoweb) and Leicester (as per The Scottish Sun), they could find themselves very short defensively if those players were to leave.
Therefore, despite Simunovic not having the best of fortunes lately, Celtic are right to try and tie him down to a new deal to dispel any doubts over his future.
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