Former Rangers striker Kris Boyd has claimed Jozo Simunovic was the best defender in the Celtic squad, overlooking both Christopher Jullien and Kristoffer Ajer, speaking to Sky Sports this weekend.
It was officially announced by the club yesterday that the option of a further year on Simunovic’s contract had not been taken by Celtic, parting ways with the big centre-half almost five years after he arrived from Dinamo Zagreb.
He joined Jonny Hayes in saying goodbye to the Hoops.
Now 25, Simunovic made 125 appearances for the club in that period, winning a massive 11 trophies along the way.
There’s no doubt he produced a decent share of good performances, perhaps most notably in the second half of last season when Neil Lennon return to the club as manager.
Fitness issues have plagued his time in Glasgow, however, never really allowing him to cement himself as a number-one pick at the club.
Boyd though has claimed he was the best defender at Celtic Park in terms of ability, telling Sky Sports: “I must admit I was actually surprised with the Jonny Hayes one myself. Maybe he’s took it upon himself. Maybe he wants to play week in, week out.
“He’s getting to that stage of his career where you want to play games but with what Celtic have got on the horizon I am very surprised that he would want to leave. So for me, they couldn’t agree a new contract.
“Simunovic on the other hand, his injury record has not been great. For me, and I think Neil Lennon has been on record saying it, he’s the best defender he had at the football club. But injuries have curtailed his career.”
Lennon has indeed spoken positively about Simunovic in the past, stating he didn’t realise how good the player was before coming in as manager (Scottish Sun). However, I’m not sure he’s ever claimed that Simunovic is the best defender at the club.
Plenty of Celtic fans would argue otherwise considering the impact of Jullien over the last 12 months. The Frenchman has played superbly in the heart of Lennon’s backline on a regular basis, rarely struggling and stepping up with big goals against Lazio and Rangers.
He’s clearly the number one centre-half at Celtic Park and has been for quite some time. He’s certainly been more impressive than the man who’s just left.
Regardless though, hopefully Simunovic finds a new club and puts his fitness issues behind him so he can perform more regularly than he has been for the Hoops.