Celtic Confirm Departure Of This Defensive Ace: Will Neil Lennon Regret This Decision Next Season?

Jozo Simunovic Is Set To Leave Celtic - Simunovic reacts during a match
PERTH, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 03: Jozo Simunovic of Celtic reacts after missing a chance during the Ladbrokes Premiership match between St Johnstone and Celtic at McDiarmid Park on February 3, 2019 in Perth, United Kingdom. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Premiership giants Celtic have officially announced the departure of Croatian professional centre-half Jozo Simunovic after the big defender’s contract with the Glasgow club came to a close. Although there is a one-year extension option embedded into the player’s contract with the side, the reigning Scottish champions have opted not to exercise the clause.

While Jozo Simunovic is set to leave Celtic, veteran winger Jonny Hayes is also about to depart the Parkhead club at the end of his contract tenure later this week. Neil Lennon paid his respects to both the outgoing players. He said, “Both leave Celtic as nine-in-a-row champions. It’s an achievement they richly deserve and something I know they will cherish dearly. I would like to sincerely thank both Jozo and Jonny, brilliant lads who have given their all to Celtic over a number of years.”

What Does Jozo Simunovic Offer In The Heart Of Defence?

The Croatian is a tall defender who offers excellent presence at the back and is capable of winning most aerial balls that are played into the box. While the potential has been apparent to see right from day one, the 25-year-old’s injury prone nature has massively deterred his progress as a Parkhead player. Capable of dominating from set-piece situations on either end of the pitch, the centre-half also has a good understanding of attacking movements.

What Is Jozo Simunovic’s Legacy At Celtic Park?

The 25-year-old arrived at Celtic Park from Croatian giants Dinamo Zagreb back in the summer of 2015. Having been signed as a young player with good potential, the defender’s first impression as a Celtic member was quite remarkable. Having gradually made a name for himself during his second season at the club, Simunovic went on to feature in 25 Premiership outings during the 16/17 campaign – a year during which he even managed a goal and an assist along the way.

Jozo Simunovic Is Set To Leave Celtic - Simunovic during a match
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – FEBRUARY 27: Jozo Simunovic of Celtic is seen during the UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg match between Celtic FC and FC Kobenhavn at Celtic Park on February 27, 2020 in Glasgow, United Kingdom. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Despite showing himself off in decent light, the Croatian failed to grab a place for himself in the side and has gone on to make just 33 appearances over the next three Premiership seasons. The former Zagreb man’s influence within the team has been dwindling, and his six outings in the league this season, despite getting on the scoresheet once, is a clear indicator of all the struggles he’s had to face. The biggest lingering issue for the defender though was a persistent knee problem, that simply added to his misery on every instance by not permitting a consistent run in the team.

Jozo Simunovic Is Set To Leave Celtic: Will Lennon Come To Regret This Decision?

The Celts’ current centre-half situation can only be described as appalling, and that’s without even considering that Simunovic is on his way out of the club. With just three recognised names now left to choose from, added to all the uncertainty surrounding the future of Kristoffer Ajer, Lennon could have a busy transfer window in the summer.

For a club aiming for their tenth straight league title, going into the campaign with a defender less would be like asking for trouble, and if things don’t go their way in the transfer market, then Lennon could come to regret this decision later on in the year.

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