CELTIC defender Jozo Simunovic has emerged as a shock target for Italian outfit Torino.
The centre-half, who was signed last year for £3.5million from Dinamo Zagreb to replace Southampton-bound Virgil van Dijk, saw his first season at Parkhead virtually obliterated through injury.
The Croatian Under-21 international made only 18 appearances and was forced to undergo knee surgery in January after playing for six weeks with a bone fracture.
Torino were linked with Simunovic before the Hoops’ swoop on September 1 last year. He made his debut 16 days later in the 2-2 draw draw against Ajax in Amsterdam in the Europa League.The Serie A club are bracing themselves for a £20million offer from Serie A rivals Napoli for Serbian central defender Nikola Maksimovic and they are likely to look again at the 22-year-old Celt who has just returned to training after his lengthy lay-off.
Brendan Rodgers has brought in his former Liverpool central defender Kolo Toure on a one-year deal while Simunovic, Erik Sviatchenko and Dedryck Boyata are sidelined through injury.
The new Hoops gaffer has given a first team opportunity to 20-year-old Cork-born Eoghan O’Connell while Swedish international Mikael Lustig has moved into the centre of defence with Saidy Janko taking over his right-back berth.
Efe Ambrose has faded from the first team picture after his own goal in the 3-1 defeat from Barcelona in Dublin last month.
Celtic could be tempted to get their cash back for Simunovic with Rodgers admitting he is still looking to bring in two new players during this transfer window.
However Rodgers will only let the player go if he doesn’t see enough in him to merit a place in the Celtic team and by all accounts that is somewhat unlikely. A fully fit Simunovic, performing at the level expected by his many admirers in the game will be worth more to Celtic on the park and any future transfer figure would be much higher.
How much did we see Virgil van Dijk for again?