WHEN you peruse the list of clubs that Josip Juranovic has been linked with this summer, it suggests that he is either one of the greatest finds by Celtic in the last decade, or he has one of the best agents in the world. The truth, may well be somewhere in the middle.
Atletico Madrid. Chelsea. Manchester United. Not too shabby.
The notion that players coming from the Scottish Premiership to one of the biggest leagues in the world would have to prove their chops at a mid-ranking club (a la Virgil van Dijk and Victor Wanyama when moving from Celtic to Southampton) before jumping to one of the blue chip outfits seems to be well and truly a thing of the past, a step that Kieran Tierney’s immediate acclimatisation to Arsenal a few years back may now help others to bypass.
Juranovic was hardly an obscure gem plucked from the wilderness by Celtic and polished into a diamond by Ange Postecoglou, as good as the manager has undoubtedly been for his development. An established Croatian international right-back, he was plying his trade for Legia Warsaw - one of the biggest clubs in Poland - having spent his formative years as a professional in Croatia with Hajduk Spilt, who are one of the two major clubs in his homeland along with Dinamo Zagreb.
Whether he was a late bloomer or whether bigger clubs simply felt the level he was playing at was beneath them until now, Juranovic is certainly a man in demand, and Celtic look set to make a quick and hefty profit that any property flipper would be proud of if he does indeed move on this summer.
Some fans may not want to hear about Celtic’s transfer ‘model’, and would much rather prefer to hold on to one of their main assets, particularly with Champions League group stage football on the horizon.
But my feeling is that the vast majority of supporters are also realists when it comes to Celtic’s trading strategy, and appreciate the situation the club would be in should any of the clubs listed follow up their interest in the 26-year-old with a cold, hard offer.
It would be very difficult for Celtic to stand in his way, and more so as the platform to move on to England is a selling tool that the club rightly use to encourage promising foreign talent to make the move to Scotland in the first place.
In fairness, the player himself seems to be relatively sanguine about the speculation regarding his future, and his hardly agitating for a move, proclaiming himself happy at Celtic. He is also hardly putting off potential suitors either, mind you, saying this at the time of the links to Atletico Madrid:
"I hope there was something there, but honestly I didn't ask the manager or anything.
“It was a bit difficult for me, but again, I have to stay firmly on the ground. It's Atletico Madrid after all, but I'm already in a great club"
Respectful, sure, but not exactly pouring cold water on the possibility of a transfer either.
The only possible reason that Juranovic wouldn’t move on in the event of a bid from one of the clubs mentioned would be based upon his likelihood of getting as many minutes in the first team as possible with the World Cup on the horizon. With that in mind, purely from a football perspective, another year at Celtic may well hold appeal.
But Juranovic isn’t a youngster. He will soon turn 27 and is coming into the prime of his career. This summer may well be the sweet spot for both player and club for him to move on, particularly as the four years he has remaining on his Celtic contract means the club are in a strong negotiating position.
It is understood that Celtic would be looking for around £12-15m should Juranovic be sold in this window, a more than decent return on a player they picked up for just £2.5m only 12 months ago. They shouldn’t settle for anything less, certainly, especially when you consider the sums being paid by English clubs for players without the international pedigree of Juranovic.
Furthermore, a fair old chunk of that change will have to be reinvested in a replacement for Juranovic. As much as Anthony Ralston has improved over the past year and more than shown himself to be an able deputy at right-back, Juranovic is a step up in class, and the Champions League matches ahead will dictate that another quality operator is brought in.
With a little over two weeks of the transfer window remaining and the Premiership season having already started, there will understandably be some worries on that score. But contingency plans will already be in place should such a scenario unfold, and possible replacements for Juranovic will already have been identified by Postecoglou and his recruitment team.
Either way, Celtic are in a win-win situation, being more than happy to see the player remain part of their squad, or standing to pocket a huge profit in such short order should he indeed get his big move.