Newcastle were heavily linked with Virgil van Dijk two years ago, when he was still at FC Groningen and he was already a Dutch U21 International, and the player looked like a classy young center-back, and Newcastle were also credited with an interest in the youngster last summer.
Virgil van Dijk – 22 year-old Celtic center-back
Two years ago was when we didn’t bother strengthening the side for the upcoming Europa League – we brought in only Vurnon Anita – and of course our squad just wasn’t big enough, and although we did very well to get to the quarter finals of that competition, we struggled in the league and only just managed to avoid relegation and finished 5th bottom.
Last June Virgil signed a four year deal at Celtic, for a fee of around £2.6M and he has just finished what has turned out to be an excellent first season at Celtic, with 47 appearances and 5 goals.
The 22 year-old stands 6’4″ tall and seems to have proved he could be the real thing at the highest level, and a number of Premier League clubs have noted his form north of the border, with one of them supposedly being Newcastle.
Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawwell had this recommendation for the youngster in yesterday’s Mail:
¨My view is that one year is far too early for him.” “He needs another year in the Champions League.¨ ¨I’ve spoken to Virgil’s agent. We don’t want to sell him. We have a manager who I think will make him — and all our players — better.
‘If I was his advisor, I would be saying: “Forget this year, let’s stay and develop”. ’
Celtic do have trouble keeping their very best players, because a number of them want to play in the English Premier League just south of the border, where the standards are much higher and the wages are too.
But it’s also true that Celtic are in the Champions League every single season, and that’s probably guaranteed for years to come, especially when Rangers are still making their way back to Scotland’s top league.
But it probably wouldn’t take too big a fee to persuade Celtic to part with their young defender – and Newcastle certainly need a top young center-back on the books for the future, with Fab Coloccini not having too many seasons left at the club.
Of course Celtic win most of their games, and don’t concede too many goals, so its hard to judge how good some of their defenders really are.
And that includes former Newcastle goalkeeper Fraser Forster, who has lots of clean sheets north of the border – but we can assure him he will not keep that many clean sheets if he does switch to the Premier League for next season, which looks likely for the talented England International.
We thought Virgil van Dijk would have been a good buy for Newcastle two years ago, and our view on that hasn’t changed much – but we don’t know if the 22 year-old is really a target of Newcastle’s this summer.
We hope he is.