Southampton have been linked with a move for Celtic centre-back Leo Hjelde and if he were to join Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side this summer, it could prove to be a repeat of the deal that saw the Saints sign Virgil van Dijk from the Hoops in 2015.
According to The Scottish Sun, Southampton are keeping tabs on the teenage centre-back, who is impressing out on loan at Ross County this season.
The 17-year-old joined Celtic from Rosenborg in the summer of 2019 and whilst he is yet to make his senior debut for the Hoops, the fact he has been a regular in the Premiership this season at Ross County highlights his obvious potential.
The centre-back has made nine appearances in total for John Hughes’ side since joining in January, which is impressive when you consider that they are currently embroiled in a relegation battle, which is when you would normally expect a manager to call on some of his more experienced players, rather than a 17-year-old loanee.
However, Hughes has clearly been impressed with Hjelde this season and was full of praise for him after he scored in their 3-2 win against Kilmarnock in March, saying:
“I’m delighted for Leo. He found himself out of the team a little bit, then came on there and got his goal. He’s destined for big, big, big things. He won’t be far away from the Celtic first-team when he goes back.”
Whilst Hjelde is just 17-years-old, and it is impossible to predict whether he will go on to have a successful career or not, there are obvious similarities to the deal that saw Van Dijk join Southampton six years ago, as he is a centre-back who would be joining Southampton from Celtic.
The Dutch superstar joined for £13m and impressed on the South Coast before joining Liverpool and going on to become one of, if not the world’s best, centre-back with the Reds.
The Norwegian defender also already stands at 6 ft 2, so could easily keep growing, and it is clear that he has not been overawed playing men’s football at such an early age, which is certainly promising for his future.
The fact he has been tipped to play a part for Celtic next season suggests that he has a lot of potential and perhaps wouldn’t look out of place in the Premier League in the not too distant future.
Therefore, if Southampton can snap him up before he starts to attract heavy interest, there’s no reason why they couldn’t have another player similar to Van Dijk on their hands again if Hjelde can realise his potential with the Saints.
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