Celtic’s Efe Ambrose rejects move to Standard Liege

Efe Ambrose, pictured celebrating winning the league last season, turned down the chance to move to Belgium.

Picture: Ian Rutherford
Efe Ambrose, pictured celebrating winning the league last season, turned down the chance to move to Belgium. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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Celtic experienced frustration in their bid to offload central defenders Jozo Simunovic and Efe Ambrose on transfer deadline day.

Simunovic’s proposed move to Torino collapsed last night, while Ambrose turned down the opportunity to join Belgian club Standard Liege.

On a fairly muted deadline day in Glasgow, which saw Rangers finally complete the signing of Swiss defender Philippe Senderos on a free transfer, there were also no further additions to the Celtic squad.

Croatian defender Simunovic had travelled to Turin and appeared poised to sign for the Serie A side.

But following conflicting reports of how the 22-year-old had fared during his medical, negotiations between Torino and the Scottish champions over a deal broke down.

Simunovic joined Celtic from Dinamo Zagreb in a £3 million move on the final day of the summer transfer window in 2015 but has been plagued by injury problems since then.

He has made just 17 appearances for the club, the most recent of them in January before he was sidelined by a knee injury. Before heading back to Glasgow last night, Simunovic rejected suggestions his physical condition was an issue.

“I have done my medical check, it was yesterday and today,” he said. “Everything was fine, Torino agreed with my terms and now it is between the clubs. It is no problem for me [if I have to go back to Celtic], this is my job and football is my life. They [Celtic] don’t need to be worried, I am ready to come back if the clubs don’t make an agreement. It is no problem for me to come back and help my team.

“I just want to play football. Everything is between the clubs, they need to make an agreement between them.”

Nigerian international Ambrose, also deemed as surplus to requirements by Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers, rejected the potential move to Standard Liege who had agreed a fee of around £300,000 for his services. It is understood Ambrose, who has a year remaining on his contract at Celtic, wishes to remain in the UK.

One player who looks like he will be leaving Celtic is right-back Saidy Janko who is set to join Barnsley on a season-long loan.

Former Celtic defender Charlie Mulgrew, whose contract at the club expired at the end of last season, did conclude the next step in his career as he signed a three-year deal at Blackburn Rovers.

The 30-year-old Scotland international had continued to train with Celtic this summer but was seeking a fresh challenge in English football.

“Once I knew of the interest here I couldn’t wait to come down and get everything sorted,” said Mulgrew after signing for the Championship outfit now managed by Owen Coyle. “It is a great club with a great history and I’m hoping I can help them achieve what the manager here wants to achieve. He’s got a great vision for the club and we are all pushing forward for that and I’m delighted to be involved.

“I had one or two options out there, but once Blackburn came in I knew it was the club for me. There have been a lot of good Scottish players and managers that have been here and there’s a good feeling about the place, so I’m happy to come on board. This is the place I wanted to be. I’m feeling fit, I’ve trained for the last three or four weeks at Celtic and with the international break now it is good timing. It is a chance for me to top my fitness up and I’m really looking forward to getting going in the first match.”

Aberdeen made one of the most eye-catching signings when they brought in 19-year-old Norwich midfielder James Maddison, who joins on loan until January. Norwich paid a reported £2.5m to sign him from Coventry.