Celtic should challenge Jozo Simunovic to earn new long-term deal

By David Walton

January 26, 2020

Jozo Simunovic’s contract is in the spotlight as the centre-back rolls into the final six months of his current deal.

According to the Scottish Sun, Neil Lennon would like to keep Jozo for the long haul, but they also state that his current contract gives Celtic the option to extend it for another 12 months.

Lennon has stated that Simunovic is a “top player” and that he has his “best years ahead of him”. Simunovic also admitted that a meeting has been scheduled so he and the club can have a talk (Scottish Sun).

Jozo Simunovic celebrates a Celtic goal (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

New contracts are always a great thing for club morale. It allows the players and supporters to feel good about themselves and always provides a little boost for everyone. However, when it comes to Jozo, Celtic must take a long hard think about things.

The centre-back, signed from Dinamo Zagreb for £5.5m in 2015 (Daily Record), only just returned to the squad against Partick Thistle after missing 24 games so far this season (Transfermarkt). The fact we’re only at the half-way point makes that a tad damning.

Too many games missed

Since Simunovic signed for the club, he’s missed 100 games in total, with 16 of them coming as recently as last season (Transfermarkt). All in all, it’s far too many games for the club to jump in and commit to a long-term contract.

We all hope Jozo’s injury woes are over, but it’s as if fate has provided us with the perfect opportunity to make sure.

When Simunovic and the club sit down for talks, Celtic should be of the opinion that activating that 12-month extension is the right course of action. That will give us the perfect chance to monitor Simunovic for the next six months without being worried that another side will nab him.

Celtic defender Jozo Simunovic (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

If he does manage to stay injury-free and plays a solid role in our nine-in-a-row charge, by all means look to tie him up for the long-term. However, if we were to give him a lengthy contract just now, there are too many question marks. He’s yet to prove he can stay injury-free for a prolonged period of time.

Playing on astroturf and coming through it unscathed was a good start for him. But Jozo has also looked fairly ropey in the three games he has played since returning. Hopefully, that’s just down to a lack of match sharpness, but even if it is, it still doesn’t cover for the constant injuries.

So hopefully the club aren’t too hasty in tying him down for the next three or four years. We need to be sensible at this stage and make Jozo earn that new deal. The 12-month clause is the only thing that should be given the go-ahead for now.