Scottish Daily Mail



JOSIP JURANOVIC has expressed his regret that Celtic failed to do more to keep him at Parkhead. The Croatia World Cup right-back left for Bundesliga high-flyers Union Berlin in a deal worth £10million in the January window. As Sportsmail first revealed, a move became inevitable after talks over a pay rise broke down before the World Cup finals. Speaking for the first time of the circumstan­ces surroundin­g his departure, the 27-year-old admits he was ‘sad’ to leave. ‘I had a really good relationsh­ip with the fans,’ he said. ‘I really loved it. It was a tough time to move away, but that’s life. ‘I was a little bit sad Celtic didn’t try to keep me as a player there. But that is football. You can’t know your future.’ Under contract until 2026, Juranovic was offered a modest pay rise to remain in Glasgow. And he knew the Scottish champions were prepared to sell him when they moved to sign Canadian right-back Alistair Johnston during the World Cup finals. The timing came just before Croatia and Canada met in Qatar, and Juranovic admitted: ‘To be honest, I was a little bit surprised because I was playing

in the World Cup and preparing for my next game. ‘Some of my friends called me and said they’d signed a new full-back, what’s your opinion about that? ‘I was just putting it to the side and concentrat­ing on the World Cup, as it’s the biggest stage in football and I wanted to perform well. But in my mind I was thinking, we would have three full-backs and someone will be on the bench and someone in the stands with their family. ‘I knew I would maybe not play two games in a row and maybe play the third one. ‘I didn’t like some of that stuff — because of the national team. If you are not playing regularly for your club, you won’t get called up for the national team. That’s the main reason why I left.’

Attracting strong interest from Italy and Spain, Juranovic learned of Union Berlin’s interest two weeks before the transfer was finalised. Three points behind champions Bayern after a 3-0 defeat in Munich at the weekend, the chance of Champions League football proved decisive. ‘I didn’t think a lot about my situation because first I had the World Cup and I was concentrat­ing fully on that,’ said Juranovic. ‘Then I was reading some news that I would be going to, I don’t know, Manchester United, Chelsea and so on. ‘But we need to be realistic. This was the right move for me from my side. ‘I didn’t say it was not true. But my main reason for coming here is that I want to play. I am still young — I am 27 but I am still young — and I want to play. I want to play for the national team, also. ‘I can settle down here and play and then play for the national team.’ Still in touch with a number of former team-mates, the full-back agreed the time had come to depart during crunch talks with Celtic manager Ange Postecoglo­u. ‘I spoke with Ange one week before I moved,’ he added. ‘We always had an honest conversati­on between us. He is a good coach — a really good coach. My 18 months there was unbelievab­le. ‘What can I say about Celtic? It’s one true love.’

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