Wednesday, November 30, 2022

European Giants Keen To Land 23 Y/O Celtic Defensive Ace: What Should Be Rodgers’ Play Here?

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Pratyay Maitra
A sports enthusiast in his mid-twenties who reads, breathes, as well as dreams (mostly) about football and attempts to share his views with the fanatics by jotting it down. Prefers to learn through extensive interaction, communication and exploration. So don't be in a quandary and SHOOT.

Celtic, the Scottish giants, have already begun their campaign with a comprehensive victory over Armenian outfit FC Alashkert in the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round tie. The Hoops, under Brendan Rodgers, clinched a ‘double treble’ over his two-year realm and the return of famous rivals Rangers in Premiership football has not affected their dominance in Scottish Premiership.

Having won seven successive league titles, they are not only keen on continuing their supremacy at home but also eyeing an improved display in European circuit. But the transfer activity so far remains a concern as Rodgers, the former Liverpool chief, is yet to sanction any significant deal having made the loan moves of Scott Bain and Odsonne Edouard permanent earlier this window.

Edouard, the French starlet from Paris St-Germain youth ranks, has been a club-record signing but, at the same time, they have parted ways with Stuart Armstrong who left for Southampton and defensive ace Jozo Simunovic has now emerged as a transfer target of Turkish giants Fenerbahce, as per reports.

Simunovic, 23, progressed through the youth ranks of Dinamo Zagreb and made 75 senior appearances for the Croatian outfit before plying his trade to Scotland to join the Scottish champions three years back. He mostly had a starting role in deep defence alongside Dedryck Boyata in Rodgers’ first season in charge but lost his place to youngster Kristoffer Ajer the last term due to his erroneous outings and lack of discipline.

The former Croatian youth international, who switched his allegiance to Bosnia a year back, managed only 15 league appearances last season but started this campaign again as a first-choice in both the playoff fixtures. He was rock solid away from home but received an early marching order at Celtic Park in the return leg fixture and repeating the same mistake won’t be allowing Simunovic much room to stake a claim in Rodgers’ plan once Mikael Lustig and Boyata rejoins the squad after completion of their vacation in the aftermath of an impressive World Cup run.

The Parkhead outfit also got young Jack Hendry alongside Boyata and Ajer as central defensive options and once the injury-riddled veteran Marvin Compper regains fitness, Rodgers will be well equipped even if he allows Simunovic to leave for the Yellow Canaries. Nir Bitton, who went under the knife back in February, has shown reliability as a makeshift centre-back and the Isreali international might be called upon in case of emergency once he returns to the first-team action. 

Read More: Celtic Interested In 26 Y/O English Fullback: A Shrewd Piece Of Business By Brendan Rodgers?

Fenerbahce, meanwhile, has appointed former PSV boss Phillip Cocu as the new man in charge who has reportedly asked sporting director Damien Comolli to make a move for the Hoops youngster. He will add defensive depth alongside veteran duo Martin Skrtel and Roman Neustädter and Rodgers, though needs more activity in the market, won’t be impacted much if he sanctions a move in coming days.

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