NEIL LENNON has stepped up his bid to further strengthen the Celtic defence by watching Partizan Belgrade centre-half Strhinja Pavlovic.
The Hoops boss scouted the highly-rated 18-year-old youth international in his side’s 1-0 win over Kilmarnock’s conquerors Connah’s Quay Nomads – the other CQN – in their Europa League qualifying tie at Belle Vue, Rhyl last night.
Pavlovic performs much in the same style as Flip Benkovic, who spent last season on loan at the eight-in-a-row champions from Leicester City. He is a ball-playing back-four performer who likes to come forward to add his quality to midfield and attack.
Lennon saw an instance of his talent when the teenager surged forward in the first-half to test Welsh keeper Lewis Brass with a superb effort.
CENTRE OF ATTRACTION…Filip Benkovic starred for the Hoops last season.
Pavlovic is currently contracted to the Serbian club until 2021 and was linked with a £4.5million move to Italian giants Juventus as he proved he was first-team material last season, but the Turin club pursued other targets at the time.
The towering 6ft 4in product of the Belgrade club’s youth system only made his debut for the club in February this year and has emerged as a top talent in his country. He has played in the heart of Partizan’s defence and also turned out as a central defensive midfielder.
Lennon has already spent almost £12million in re-enforcing his defence and has brought in Chrsistopher Jullien, £7million from Toulouse, Boli Bolingoli, £3million from Rapid Vienna, and Hatem Abd Elhamed, £1.6million from Hapoel, this month.
He has promised more signings before the September 2 transfer deadline and has also been linked with Basel’s £4.5million-rated Swiss international right-back Silvan Widmar, as CQN reported yesterday.