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HOOPS IN CROATIAN LINK

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CELTIC have been linked with Benfica’s Croatian centre-back Branimir Kalaica.

The 22-year-old defender is reported to be on Neil Lennon’s wanted list as he seeks reinforcements for the middle of his rearguard, according to the Scottish Daily Mail.

Ironically, the Hoops released Kalaica’s fellow-countryman Jozo Simunovic at the end of the season after deciding against taking up the 12-month option in his contract and that has hastened the champions’ gaffer haste to bring in new players.

The stopper has two years still to run on his deal with the Portuguese giants after joining from Dinamo Zagreb’s Under-18 set-up in 2016.

Kalaica has been performing for the Lisbon outfit’s B side in the second tier of the nation’s league.

The nine-in-a-row champions will face competition with Watford and Leeds also watching his progress.

Lennon also lost two left-sided defenders in Jonny Hayes and Calvin Miller when they left Parkhead.at the end of their contracts.

Scotland’s title kings currently have only two recognised centre-backs in Christopher Jullien and Kristoffer Ajer in the first-team squad.

Right-back Hatem Abd Elhamed and midfielder Nir Bitton have both filled in, but the Hoops gaffer would prefer a direct replacement.

 
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