Five facts about rumoured Celtic target Juwon Oshaniwa

Celtic

Jack Beresford lifts the lid on the Nigerian international defender who is claiming to be a target for Scottish champions Celtic.

Virgil van Dijk may not be heading for the Celtic Park exit just yet, but that has not prevented the Parkhead club from being linked with a move for another under-the-radar defender.

The Dutchman was brought in from Groningen and has performed admirably so far for the Hoops, however their next rumoured target may be even more left-field.

"My club have told me that Celtic have contacted them about me and said they were interested in me," Nigerian defender Juwon Oshaniwa informed BBC Scotland, earlier today.

"A move to play for Celtic would be a dream come true for me."

Who is this latest reported target and where did he come from? Here are five things you need to know about the 24-year-old.

1. He’s already playing in Europe

Born in Ilorn, Nigeria back in September 1990, Oshaniwa played for Kwara United, Lob Stars and Sharks in his homeland before sealing a move to Israel with Ashdod back in September 2012, signing a four-year deal with the club.

Deployed primarily as a left-back, the 24-year-old has made 49 appearances for the club, though he is yet to lift any silverware there.

2. He’s a Nigerian international

Highly regarded as a youngster, Oshaniwa earned his first call-up to the Super Eagles' senior national team back in 2012, first appearing in a series of World Cup qualifiers before being named in Stephen Keshi’s 23-man party for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.

But despite amassing 11 caps to date the left back played just 24 minutes of football at the tournament, coming on as a substitute for first-choice left-back Elderson Echiéjilé and subsequently booked after just five minutes on the field.

3. He’s already arrived on the world stage

Part of the Super Eagles squad that travelled to the World Cup in Brazil, Keshi opted to deploy Oshaniwa as a centre-back, with the 24-year-old brought in to replace the injured Echiéjilé and subsequently putting in a series of virtuoso performances to help the African side upset the odds and progress to the knock-out phase.

In four appearances at the South American finals, the stopper helped Nigeria keep two clean sheets - against Iran and Bosnia-Herzegovina - and played every minute for the African side along with Celtic's very own Efe Ambrose and Chelsea youngster Kenneth Omeruo.

He also become recognised for his notable on-the-pitch post and pre-match prayers.

4. He’s been linked to the Premier League

Back in May 2013, the African star was agitating for a move away from Israel with the player’s agent, Socrate Ebanda quoted in the Mirror as claiming that his charge was keen on a move to the Premier League.

"Juwon is a young player with plenty of room for improvement," he said.

"There are two top clubs in Switzerland that are very interested in him, but a move to the Premier League would obviously be a dream come true."

The report claims that both Hull and then-Premier League outfit Cardiff City were considering a move for the player, though neither ultimately came to anything.

5. He’s been keen on Celtic for a while.

The defender has been linked with a move to Celtic for some time, with quotes attributed to the left-back indicating a desire to move to Parkhead back in the summer of 2013.

According to the report from STV Sport, the stopper said, in quotes taken from an interview with Nigerian Soccer:

"There are still ongoing talks on the move for me to go to Scotland.

"Once they are one, then everybody will have a clearer picture.

"It is God that has the final say, but they are already talking with my club president.”

"By God's grace everything will work out well."

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