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The Josip Juranovic transfer saga is finally over after the Croatian put pen to paper at the weekend with Bundesliga side Union Berlin.
Rumours of his exit had been circulating since the summer.
And if we were hearing of it way back then, you better believe Ange Postecoglou was well aware of it too.
Which is why it’s so refreshing to see just how well the club have handled the 27 year old’s departure.
A Vital Part of The Rebuild
At the time of Juranovic’s arrival at Celtic Park (a week before Ange’s first transfer window closed on 24th August 2021) the club were in the midst of a major rebuild following the failings of the 2020/21 season.
To look at the squad Ange inherited would make you shudder.
With Champions League qualifiers just days away his options at right back consisted of just Tony Ralston and Lee O’Connor.
And not the Tony Ralston we know now. The other one.
Which is what made the addition of Juranovic such a crucial one.
At 26 years of age and already a proven international with Croatia he was ready to make an immediate impact on the first team.
Which is exactly what he done.
An experienced campaigner following spells with Hadjuk Split in his homeland and then at Legia Warsaw in Poland he slotted seamlessly into Ange’s new look side.
He performed admirably on his debut, showing his versatility by covering for Greg Taylor at Ibrox in a 1-0 defeat shortly after his arrival.
And in the weeks and months ahead he became a vital part of the side who would go on to clinch the title with a number of impressive displays at home and in Europe.
None more so than in the season defining 3-0 win over Rangers at Celtic Park on the 2nd of February.
Potentially his best night in a Celtic shirt.
Rumours of an Exit
All players have a natural shelf life at any club, though it caught many off guard when suggestions of an early exit for Juranovic began to circulate in the summer.
He had after all signed a 5 year deal on his arrival at the club less than 12 months prior and looked extremely settled in his adopted country.
With the World Cup kicking off in Qatar in mid-November though, and with Juranovic a certainty to be included as part of the Croatia squad, would he (or any player) jeopardise his place by making a move just months beforehand?
The answer of course would be no.
But the seed had been sown. And Ange knew it.
Celtic’s Pro-Active Approach
As the world’s biggest stars turned out for their respective countries in Qatar, not many of us will have been paying too much attention to the fortunes of the Canadian national side.
At least not until the rumours started linking Celtic with their energetic young full back Alistair Johnston.
Johnston would go on to start all three of Canada’s group games against Belgium, Morocco, and ironically Juranovic’s Croatia and gave us a glimpse at what he had to offer on the biggest stage of all.
His signing was then confirmed by the club on the 12th of December.
For Celtic to be so pro-active in this area isn’t something we’ve seen a great deal of over the years.
But things are different now, and Ange – with the full support of CEO Michael Nicholson – has adopted a whole new approach when it comes to the club’s player trading model.
Josip Juranovic Transfer Confirmed
Some easy maths tells you that three right backs into two doesn’t go and it then became a matter of time before Juranovic’s time at the club would come to an end.
But losing such a talented player in this way isn’t the disaster it maybe once was when a fan favourite moved on.
Speaking of the move, Ange said,
“I said at the AGM we’ve just got to be really agile and aggressive in the transfer market if we want to make the gains we want to make.
I get that it’s unsettling and disconcerting, particularly for our supporters, because they love these players, and I totally understand that.
But my role is to try to make decisions that I think are best for us and our continued growth as a football team, and realising when an opportunity comes along we have to be ready to take it.
I don’t think there needs to be winners and losers out of this.”
With the sale of Juranovic Celtic have maximised their return on a player who gave his all and played a vital part in returning the league title to Celtic Park.
At almost 28 years of age and a relatively late bloomer in the game the player himself will have realised that there was a narrow window for him to make what is likely the last major move of his career.
In his place – and at a NET profit – we now have a player almost four years his junior in Alistair Johnston, with the signs already there that he too could go on to be as popular as Juranovic.
A likeable and lively character, JJ will be remembered fondly for what he achieved in green and white and now heads to pastures new with everyone’s best wishes.
Celtic wins, and Juranovic wins.