Newcastle United and Sunderland could be set to ramp up their efforts to recruit Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk, amid reports that the Dutchman has asked to leave Parkhead.
The 23-year-old reportedly told those behind the scenes at the Scottish champions that he is keen to depart the club in the coming days, with a move to the Premier League one long-mooted option for the former Groningen player.
Signed by Celtic for £2.6 million from the Dutch Eredivisie side last summer, Van Dijk has caught the eye of several clubs across Europe, with Dinamo Moscow and Hamburg both thought to be keen admirers.
However the lure of the Premier League, and the opportunity a top-flight transfer presents to further boost his chances of receiving a call-up to the Holland national team, could prove too tempting to resist with Newcastle and Sunderland leading the chase.
The Magpies have made no secret of their desire to recruit another defender, with Steven Taylor and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa both linked with moves away from St James Park after struggling to hold down places in the first-team.
Sunderland, meanwhile, are keen to add more quality to their backline, as manager Gustavo Poyet looks to steer the club clear of any relegation dogfight this term.
Van Dijk has previously been valued at around £8 million by Celtic, though with time running out for both the Black Cats and Toon, the Scottish club could hold out for a more significant fee.
The Dutchman’s departure could also leave the Bhoys facing a race against time to recruit another defeat to replace the outgoing 23-year-old, meaning there may even be potential for a cash-plus-player offer, should the situation arise.
But with Van Dijk seemingly stating his desire to leave Scotland, one of Newcastle or Sunderland could be set to benefit.