Celtic must start search for Van Dijk replacement now
Much of the talk this summer has surrounded one man, Virgil van Dijk. The 24-year-old Dutchman has been a revelation since joining from Groningen back in 2013, winning the Player of the Year award in his first season before consolidating his reputation as the best defender in Scotland last year.
Such form has unsurprisingly resulted in the centre back attracting the attentions of many of Europe’s elite. Manchester United and Arsenal have both been noted with an interest and it’s easy to see why. Van Dijk has all the attributes to play at the top level, he’s strong and powerful, has a burst of pace and is excellent on the ball.
Assistant manager John Collins has admitted that the Bhoys’ task of keeping their star man will be much easier should they make the Champions League but it is hard to see the Netherlands U21 international staying put should one of Europe’s big boys come calling.
Numbers around the £10m mark have been bandied about in terms of a transfer fee and if the player wants out then the Parkhead club will be in desperate need of a replacement.
Celtic are 5/1 to bag the domestic treble with Ladbrokes and they will need a lynchpin to replace Van Dijk if they are to do so. Ronny Deila’s eye may be turned by Norwegian international Vegard Forren, who had an ill-fated spell at Southampton back in 2013. The defender returned to Molde after his £4million move to Saints and has gone on to impress back in his homeland.
Forren has real pedigree and will be known to Deila from his time as the Stromgodset boss. The fee would be minimal and at 27 the three-time Tippeligaen winner is coming towards his peak.
Closer to home, Celtic could look south of the border to strengthen their ranks. Curtis Davies was worthy of an England call up in the eyes of many last season but still finds himself in the Championship with Hull City.
The ex-Birmingham defender is at the peak of his powers and his wealth of Premier League experience will serve Celtic well at the heart of their back four. An offer of £4m may see the Tigers tempted, but with James Chester jumping ship the Yorkshire club will be reluctant to sell.
A man who could be available is Ryan Bennett from Norwich City. The England U21 international has fallen down the pecking order at Carrow Road behind the likes of Sebastian Bassong and Russell Martin.
Bennett didn’t look out of place in his 28 Premier League appearances for the Canaries and he would command a fee of around £1m, a snip for a player of his calibre.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.