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Celtic find eye-catching Croatian defender to replace Van Dijk

| 18.08.2015

Virgil van Dijk has been one of football’s most in-demand centre halves over the course of this summer, with almost every Premier League side linked with Celtic’s marauding Dutch defender during the current transfer window.

The typical school of thought among media circles is that one of those interested parties, likely to be Southampton or Everton, will finally seal the long-protracted signing, leaving the Bhoys with a sizeable hole to fill in their backline.

Having brought in Manchester City’s one-time perma-fringe defender Dedryck Boyata in the off-season, Ronny Deila will need further recruits in the department in order to cover Van Dijk’s departure.

According to the Daily Record, the Norwegian coach has found his man, with Celtic’s chief executive Peter Lawwell flying to Croatia to negotiate with Dinamo Zagreb for Jozo Simunovic.

Capped throughout his country’s youth teams up to U21 level, the Zagreb native has begun catching the eye of some of Europe’s biggest clubs.

The Record report that Bayern Munich and Lyon have been keeping tabs on the 21-year-old, who has played 36 league games for his hometown club across three seasons in the first team.

Understandably, with two such luminaries in competition for the player, Celtic hope to steal a march on their rivals to land their man, although Zagreb have their fingers crossed for a bidding war.

Should the Hoops lose out on Simunovic, a return to the Etihad reserve squad could be on the cards.

Jason Denayer, who spent last season on loan with the Scottish giants, could be tempted into following Boyata in making a permanent move north of the border.

After three wins and a draw from their opening four Ladbrokes Premiership games, Deila’s men are rated at 1/4 by the sponsors to beat Dundee United next time.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.