Celtic manager Ronny Deila may have already claimed Virgil van Dijk will not be departing Parkhead before the close of the transfer window but after leaving the Dutchman out of the Celtic squad for Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Dundee, a move away looks imminent.
Southampton and Newcastle United have emerged as the main contenders to recruit the 23-year-old, who has impressed since moving to Celtic Park from Eredivisie side Groningen last summer for a bargain price of £2.6m.
The Saints are thought to be particularly keen on the former Holland under-21 star, who has been identified as the man to replace Dejan Lovren at the heart of the Southampton defence.
But manager Ronald Koeman has so far baulked at the £8m price tag Celtic have reportedly slapped on the young defender, with the club keen to keep hold of the Dutchman for another season.
Southampton’s failure to meet the Hoops’ current valuation could pave the way for Newcastle to step up their efforts to recruit Van Dijk.
The Magpies look likely to be in the market for another defender, with Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa linked with a move to AS Roma in Italy.
And the £8m required to prise the Oranje youngster away from Parkhead could be available, with Newcastle keen to invest in their playing squad this summer following a season in which the team endured mid-table mediocrity.
Van Dijk is keen to leave Celtic after they crashed out of the Champions League against NK Maribor and, despite interest from Dinamo Moscow and several other European sides, the 23-year-old is keen to move to the Premier League.
A switch south of the border could help Van Dijk earn a call-up to the Holland national team too, having previously been overlooked for the senior side during his time with the Hoops.
But with Celtic playing hard-ball, a big-money bid from one of Southampton or Newcastle could be required.
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