Former Rangers defender Arthur Numan believes fellow Dutchman Virgil van Dijk needs to leave Celtic as soon as possible for the sake of his international career.
Van Dijk, 23, earned his first call-up to the Netherlands squad this month, having impressed in the Scottish Premiership after a £2.6 million move from Eredivisie outfit FC Gronigen last summer.
However, Numan, who won 45 caps for the Oranje himself, fears that the centre-back’s progress could go backwards without Champions League football this season, and thinks a move in the winter transfer window would be his best option.
‘If he gets the chance Virgil should go to England in January or at the end of the season. Over the last two seasons he has proved he is too good for Scottish football,’ he told the Daily Record.
‘If you are linked with some clubs in England it’s natural you are going to want to move away because you have Celtic in the top league here and who else?
‘When a player comes to Scotland you spend a year or two trying to impress, but when you’re there four years and play Ross County seven times a season it can be hard to motivate yourself. You can stay too long.
‘Maybe Virgil will think now he needs another step in his career. Going to England to play in one of the best clubs in Europe may be better for himself and for the national team.
‘If the Dutch coach comes over to see him play against Ross County he will wonder how Virgil would do against top international players. It’s hard to judge him when he is playing against strikers from a smaller team.
‘I think that was the reason he was never in Louis van Gaal’s squad for the World Cup. He plays in Scotland while the other Dutch players are in big competitions and that is probably why he was never chosen.’
Linked with a move to Arsenal in recent weeks, Van Dijk was understood to have been left frustrated after Celtic failed to consider bids during the closing stages of the summer transfer window, with his reaction leading to him being left out of the lineup for the league game against Dundee.
Neverthless, Numan believes the want-away defender will eventually get his move, with the side’s failure to make it to the Champions League group stages meaning it could come sooner rather than later.
‘You can prove yourself against the best players in Europe in the Champions League and that would have been a great stage on which to show himself to new Dutch coach Guus Hiddink,’ he said.
‘He has improved as a player and the time is right for him to move to England. I don’t know the reason Celtic did not let him go but they will have to sell him in time, they missed out on a lot of money through failing to make it to the Champions League.
‘That is a shame. I don’t think the Europa League will attract a lot of supporters.’