Celtic Invincible Jozo Simunovic is still a free agent, close to a full season after leaving the Bhoys.
The former Croatian youth international endured a successful, if injury-plagued spell in Glasgow. Under Brendan Rodgers and Neil Lennon, he featured in 5 title-winning sides, notching up 126 first-team appearances. A four-time league winner in Croatia with Dinamo Zagreb, his trophy haul is considerable, especially for a 26-year-old [Transfermarkt].
Yet, his injury woes have been deemed so severe that no club has taken a chance on the ex-Celt. Most recently, Jozo was linked to a move to Augsburg or Stuttgart in the Bundesliga [Goal]. A contract with neither club materialised. Somehow, a player with 16 medals in his mid-20s isn’t earning a wage playing football.
Yes, his injuries were substantial. He only once managed over 20 league appearances in a season for Celtic. Still, he’s been in training and is surely fit enough for a trial somewhere. Given Celtic’s injury woes, many fans have suggested we were hasty in letting the Croat go, especially for free.
A Celtic return for Jozo Simunovic?
“It was settled that Celtic were going to extend the contract with me and just a few days before they needed to let me know that they were going to extend the deal.
“I got the phone call and a letter saying that they are very sorry but due to the situation with Covid they were stopping it.
“I cannot moan now about my contract finishing and not being extending there, I need to focus on better things, on the great things I did with the club when I was there with my teammates.”
You could argue that 10 games from Simunovic might’ve been better than using Nir Bitton or Shane Duffy. Celtic have had massive defensive struggles this season. Jozo could be occasionally erratic for Celtic, but he was never a figure of significant disapproval from Celtic supporters.
He could sometimes be caught out, most memorably in Europe against FC Copenhagen [BBC]. In terms of standards though, he is hardly worse than the rather thin selection Celtic have had this season.
Could Celtic approach Jozo for a return? It’s certainly possible. While he’s obviously a risk, given his injury history, he’s available for nothing. Given the considerable rebuild needed at the club, we’re not really in a position to turn our nose up at the likes of Jozo Simunovic.
It’s not impossible to imagine Simunovic re-joining Celtic on a pay-as-you-play style contract. Put it this way, we’ve spent far more on far worse.
Either way, it’s bizarre that nobody has taken a chance on Jozo. He might feel he has unfinished business with us.