CELTIC are eyeing Dinamo Zagreb central defender Jozo Simunovic as a potential replacement for Virgil van Dijk.

The Hoops have been told the Croatian Under-20 international is valued at £4million by his club.

Simunovic, who is also being watched by Bayern Munich and Lyon, appeared against Ronny Deila’s side as a substitute in last season’s Europa League.

The SPFL champions have an interest in the 21-year-old centre-half as they prepare for the likelihood of Van Dijk’s departure. They have not made a formal offer, but they have been told Dinamo will not contemplate selling the classy back-four operator for anything less than what they consider the going rate.

Deila insists there is no prospect of star defender Van Dijk leaving before the two-leg Champions League play-off with Sweden’s Malmo with the first leg in Glasgow on Wednesday and the return the following Tuesday.

Southampton and Everton are among a list of interested clubs pursuing the Dutchman, who cost £2.6million when he signed a four-year deal in June 2013 after arriving from Groningen. Celtic are set to achieve a Scottish record fee of around £15million should they decide to cash in on the hugely impressive Van Dijk in this window.

Boss Deila knows he will have to buy a replacement with only Efe Ambrose available to play alongside Dedryck Boyata, who arrived from Manchester City in the summer. Charlie Mulgrew can also play in central defence but perhaps lacks the pace required for Deila’s favoured style of play.
Simunovic could be the answer as the Hoops plan ahead at home and in Europe, with further squad changes happening over the coming weeks.
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