Why this young Dutchman has got Arsenal and Tottenham excited this January

Celtic’s Virgil van Dijk is currently one of the most sought after young defenders in the whole of Europe. The 23-year-old Dutchman has everything in his skill-set to become of the world’s top centre-backs, and with several Premier League sides reportedly interested in Celtic’s latest sensation, his admirers certainly go beyond the realms of Scottish football.

Despite not being a main feature of Louis van Gaal’s 2014 World Cup squad, where the solid but slightly suspect Ron Vlaar and Bruno Martins-Indi were considered first choice centre-backs, Virgil van Dijk has been making tremendous strides in the 2014/15 campaign for Celtic.

While the Hoops will of course like to keep their main man at Celtic Park for the foreseeable future, if van Dijk were to leave this January, which sides are in the running to land him? And would a potential move to the Premier League prove a step too far for the young Dutchman?

The answer to the latter question is a most probably – no. Virgil van Dijk has a good turn of pace, can play the ball out the back comfortably with his feet, and remains a strong contender in any aerial challenge. Although he may not be used to facing the likes of Diego Costa or Sergio Aguero on a regular basis, van Dijk’s experiences in the Champions League with Celtic should hold him in good stead to play in one of Europe’s stronger leagues.

Celtic’s no. 5 began his career in Holland with the likes of Willem II and Groninghen, before making the switch to Glasgow in 2013. During his time with the Hoops, van Dijk has made over 70 appearances, recorded countless clean sheets and even popped up with a few important goals. His crowning individual achievement was being named Celtic’s Young Player of the Year in 2013, but at only 23-years-old, his career is really only just beginning.

In response to where the young defender may end up this winter, Celtic boss Ronny Delia has been quick to dispel any rumours linking van Dijk with a move away from Celtic Park – ‘He’s very happy. I have spoken to him and we are very happy to keep him as well. He’s a top player.’

While the latter part of that comment is undeniable at the moment, the rest of Delia’s statement could well be intended to drive up Virgil van Dijk’s transfer fee, should his move away from Celtic become an inevitability.

As several of England’s top sides are currently going through somewhat of a defensive crisis, Celtic are going to have to do all they can to stave off interest from the Premier League this January. Both Arsenal and Tottenham are reportedly interested in bringing van Dijk to North London, as the Gunners in particular failed to adequately strengthen their defensive vulnerabilities in the summer.

While the same can’t be said of either Manchester City or Liverpool, as both aimed to strengthen at the back through Eliaquim Mangala and Dejan Lovren respectively, their current defensive problems could be solved by van Dijk as well, should Celtic see fit to finally let the Dutchman go.

Manchester United, despite all their summer spending on Luke Shaw, Daley Blind and Marcos Rojo, are also supposedly interested in van Dijk this January. Louis van Gaal’s failure to properly include the Dutchman in his World Cup plans may hold this potential move back however, as van Dijk will not be short of suitors should he choose to look elsewhere.

Although it currently seems unlikely that Celtic will sell their best defender half way through the season, if the money is right and the January transfer window lives up to the hype it is often portrayed with, Virgil van Dijk could be on the move sooner rather than later. As he looks to be a top star in the making, fans of English football should rejoice at any sign of the Dutchman making his way to the Premier League in the near future.

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