JOZO SIMUNOVIC has been linked with La Liga outfit Alaves, but it is highly unlikely Celtic will be interested in doing business with the Spanish side.

The champions are looking to strengthen the middle of their rearguard with Dedryck Boyata confirming he will quit the club next week to join Bundesliga mid-table team Hertha Berlin.

Filip Benkovic is due to return to parent club Leicester City at the end of his season-long loan although there has been speculation ex-Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers is open to allowing him to extend his stay at Parkhead.

Simunovic, 24, who was signed for £2.5million from Dinamo Zagreb in the summer of 2015 by ex-gaffer Ronny Deila, has returned to the first team under caretaker Neil Lennon and has a contract until 2021.

JOY BHOYS…Jozo Simunovic is the centre of attraction after his goal against Kilmarnock last month. Joining in are Odsonne Edouard, Scott Sinclair, Kristoffer Ajer, Callum McGregor and Scott Brown.

The Hoops’ only stand-bys are Jack Hendry, a £1.2million purchase by Rodgers from Dundee in January 2018, and German flop Marvin Compper, who hasn’t even played a full game since his £1.3million arrival from RB Leipzig at the same time.

Callum McGregor insisted Simunovic must stay and, speaking to The Sun, said: “Jozo has been brilliant since the manager changed.

“He’s come up with big goals and looks a real top player again.

“He always had that in the locker, but the last few months he’s brought that to the table again and I’m not surprised clubs are looking.

“But obviously we want our top players here to give us a chance to rebuild with the numbers we need.

“It’s important we keep the big players.”

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