THE agent of Serbian international midfielder Filip Djuricic has insisted his client will not be joining Celtic during the current transfer window.
The Scottish champions had been strongly linked with a move for the 21-year-old Benfica player after sending scouts to the Lisbon club’s last two matches. Djuricic, who scored both of Serbia’s goals in their 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over Scotland in March 2013, joined Benfica from Dutch side Heerenveen last summer but has truggled to hold down a regular first team place so far.
According to his agent Oliver Cabrera, however, he remains content with life at Benfica and committed to becoming a key player at the club. Cabrera said: “Djuricic is not going to Celtic because he wants to stay at Benfica and fight for a place to play more games.
“I do not know whether or not Celtic are interested in him and I don’t want to know, because right now Djuricic is a Benfica player and he wants to stay at the club. He’s very happy, despite wanting to be in a better situation because he’s not playing as much as he wanted, but his time will arrive. He’s a fighter and will win his place sooner or later.”
Celtic are inevitably being linked with a succession of potential targets as the closure of the January transfer window approaches, with Parkhead manager Neil Lennon keen to make at least two further additions to his squad.
Middlesbrough’s Australian international central defender Rhys Williams is understood to be one of those under consideration by Lennon. Swansea City have already had an approach for the 25-year-old rebuffed by the Teesside club.
Williams, who can also play at full-back or in midfield, is valued at around £2 million by Middlesbrough. But manager Aitor Karanka, who replaced former Celtic manager Tony Mowbray in the post two months ago, insists he is unaware of any potential sale. “I don’t know anything about that,” said Karanka. “Rhys is a player who, when he concentrates 100 per cent, is a very, very good and I’m happy with him.”
Celtic supporters are set to see one new face in their side this weekend with recent £2 million capture Stefan Johansen in line to make his debut against Hibs at Easter Road on Sunday. The Norwegian international midfielder has already caught the eye of new team-mate Kris Commons in training.
“He’s trained with us twice now and he looks like a very good player, technically very good,” said Commons. “He’s got a good left foot and I heard him say in his interviews that he enjoys a passing game, and likes to look for through balls so, hopefully, he will add something to the side and help us kick on.”
Celtic midfielder Nir Biton, meanwhile, believes the club’s mid-season warm weather training trip to Turkey earlier this month has prepared him for a more productive second half of the campaign with Lennon’s side.
The Israeli international has made just six starting appearances for Celtic since joining the club in August, while his Champions League debut ended in ignominy with his dismissal just 11 minutes after coming on as a substitute against Ajax at
“The trip to Turkey has helped me to communicate more with the players and to settle into the team, so it was very important for me,” Biton told the Celtic View. “In the previous month I didn’t get a lot of time on the pitch, and I needed to try to prove myself as I am still a new boy at the club so, hopefully, I gave the coaches a reason to play me.
“When I came here in the beginning, the football in Scotland was totally different to what I was used to back home.
“In European football you have much more time and space than what you imagine, while in Scotland you don’t have space to get on the ball, and that’s very different. Now I feel more comfortable on and off the pitch.”
If Biton is involved on Sunday, Hibs goalkeeper Ben Williams may have to be especially alert even when the 22-year-old takes possession in his own half. He attempted to score from such a position when Celtic played Galatasaray during their Turkish trip and has promised to do so again.
“When I got the ball I looked up and saw the goalkeeper outside his goal so I tried to shoot the ball over the keeper, and with a bit more luck I might have got a goal,” said Biton.
“I tried it before with the national team at under-21s and also at Ashdod. I haven’t scored like this yet but I promise one time I will score. I will try it again – but not all the time.”