Newcastle have been linked with a number of Celtic players in recent seasons and the latest is Jozo Simunovic.

The centre-back turns 23 in August and has had a decent season as Celtic have strolled to a league and cup double, which could become a treble, against almost zero opposition.

Newcastle of course ended up gifting England international Fraser Forster to Celtic for next to nothing but the only player to recently move in the opposite direction is Stuart Findlay, the young defender released by Celtic and recruited by Rafa Benitez to beef up Newcastle’s reserve team.

Newcastle were linked strongly with moves for both Victor Wanyama and Virgil van Dijk in recent times but preferred to go for cheaper options overseas, whilst those players have proved massive successes when moving to the Premier League.

Celtic have done pretty well in picking up some young unknown talented players from clubs on the continent, before they then move on and make the big step up into English football.

The knack of course is to work out which of Celtic’s players don’t just look good because of the shocking standard of Scottish football.

Jozo Simunovic was recruited in summer 2015 for £3m from Dinamo Zagreb and this season has played 29 times for Celtic, including 22 times in the league, where they have conceded only  23 goals in 34 matches.

The Mail name Newcastle United as one of a number of English and continental clubs who have been watching the Croatian defender, with a view to making a move this summer.

A price tag of around £9m has been speculated for a player who has been a regular at Under 21 level but who is still to get a call-up for the senior Croatian set-up.

As an indication of just how poor the overall standard is in Scotland, Celtic’s player of the year is Scott Sinclair who has scored 21 goals in 28 league starts (plus 3 as sub), yet in his final four years in the Premier League only managed four goals.

Only one thing is certain and that is there is going to be a very difficult transfer market for Rafa Benitez to negotiate, though obviously every penny that Mike Ashley allows in his budget will help.

A meeting between owner and manager has been widely reported to be happening this week.

At least one new centre-back must be a priority, with only Ciaran Clark convincing totally that the step up to the Premier League can be a comfortable one.

Jamaal Lascelles has had an average season at best, although a newspaper exclusive on Tuesday morning has claimed that he will be having surgery today on a double hernia problem, which is said to have affected him for the past four months.

  • Phil K

    “Before they step up into English Football” ?????????????
    Since when ? They WANT to and their fans are dumb enough to think they’ll be challenging straight away. But why ? English football needs them like it needs tooth decay

    • bobbi fleckman

      I think the article means that players see Celtic as a stepping stone to English Football.

  • Paul Patterson

    ‘Celtic have strolled to a league and cup double, which could become a treble, against almost zero opposition’.
    The words ‘zero opposition’ are the ones that should be a red flag . .

    • Phil K

      Really ? 2nd in that league would struggle in Div 1 football.
      You think differently ? Explain why

      • Paul Patterson

        Read it again, if there is ‘zero opposition’ they how can anyone tell if a player is good or not?

  • bobbi fleckman

    The issue is the opposition, it’s not good at all. I must admit to being surprised at Virgil van Dijk as he looked poor when Celtic played in Europe but of course breezed through the domestic games, he’s proven himself since.

    It’s perhaps the same risk as taking a player directly from the smaller overseas market, we only know if they can adapt once they get here.

    • Jezza

      Yes three cautionary words about signing players from Scottish football: Jean Alain Boumsong.

      It’s a long time since we’ve had a player come down from Scotland and do well for us. I think the last one was Mark McGhee, second time round I hasten to add!

      • Thefootballerwhocouldfly

        Ritchie’s a Scottish international one of the players of the season?!

        • Jezza

          Yes but we didn’t sign him from Scottish football. We signed him from a Premiership club. You have missed my point. I wasn’t talking about Scottish players, I was talking about players of any nationality signed from Scottish clubs.

      • Mark Scott

        I actually don’t think Boumsong was as bad as he was made out to be, he suffered by having an over inflated price tag that he could never have lived up to and was trying to replace Woodgate who was probably one of the best defenders i’ve ever seen on his day. I often wondered if we’d snatched Boumsong up for 2m or so if the pressure would have been so lessened and he would have played to his potential.

  • Soldier

    not only did we miss out on the 2 players mentioned above but we went in for Dier & Ali at the same time, Newcastle wouldn`t pay the £5m asking price & look at them at Spurs
    it`s always the cheap option & what makes the fans think this summer won`t be the same

    • Mark Scott

      I think this is what is frustrating, we’ve seen players head to other clubs because we balked at paying extra money while others did, and that money amounts to peanuts these days as well. Meanwhile we’ve been stuck with the cheap options that have ended up wasting money (or the not so cheap options when it comes to Cabella and Thauvin etc). Hopefully Rafa will get his way in terms of buying who he wants rather than who can turn a profit…let’s hope the fat man had learned his lessons…

  • patrick

    Slag Celtic all you want. We’re a much bigger club than Newcastle, a Champions League club who wins trophies each year.

    • Thefootballerwhocouldfly

      Hey Pat, no doubting Celtic are a big club & the best in Scotland….just wish we’d had your backing & success. Not sure you’d have had that in the Premiership but you can only beat what’s before ye. Good luck for next season

    • MadMag83

      So big their fans are drawn to comment on a Newcastle fanzine…..

    • bobbi fleckman

      I think you are being rather sensitive, nobody has slagged Celtic off but cautious about bringing in players from a weak league which is especially weak at this moment in time where the usual competition is well off the pace.

      I don’t doubt that you’d get a full house each week if you were to join the British version of the EPL and yes, you’d be a big draw (as would Rangers if they got their act together) but I can’t see it happening if indeed there even is any desire north of the border.

    • Jezza

      So what. It’s not exactly hard to win trophies when you’re playing the likes of Ross County. St Johnstone and Inverness Caley every week. Hartlepool would win trophies every year if they played in the Scottish league.