West Ham to beat Arsenal and Spurs to highly-rated defender

West Ham could beat London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham to the signature of Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk, according to Hammers legend Frank McAvennie.

The Dutch defender has been heavily linked with a move away from Celtic Park in recent months, with north London clubs Arsenal and Spurs reported to be the front runners to sign him.

But McAvennie believes van Dijk would be better off signing for West Ham, who are enjoying a sparkling start to the season and currently occupy a top four spot in the Premier League.

He told London24: “I’m sure the manager will already have told him he’s going nowhere in January.

“I know there’s been talk of Arsenal but at this stage I think that’s ambitious.

“But, he can still get a really big club – and if he does well against Inter Milan then who knows. I can tell you for a fact, the English clubs don’t care how well players do against other Scottish teams.

“To get a move like that, you’ve got to do well in Europe. That’s where you are judged. It’s one thing doing well in Scotland but it’s Europe where the English clubs will judge you.

“Everyone is talking up the prospect of him maybe going to one of the big four in England – I don’t think he’s going to get to that level at this stage. Maybe a West Ham is more realistic.

“My advice would be to stay because he’s learning all the time. He’s certainly a very good player but if he’s got ambitions of going straight to a top four or six team in England then another season would do him no harm at all.”

With Winston Reid’s Upton Park future in the balance, the Hammers are in the market for a central defender in January and are expected to enquire about the possibility of bringing the 23-year-old Celtic defender to east London next month.