Arsenal’s desire to bring in a new centre-back in the winter market is no secret at this point, with manager Arsene Wenger himself admitting at the club’s AGM last week that defensive cover is at the top of his wish list.
While the likes of Mats Hummels, Ron Vlaar and Winston Reid have all been reported as potential targets since the summer, the leading candidate to make the move to the Emirates remains Celtic’s Virgil van Dijk, whose impressive performances in the Scottish Premiership over the past season have led to on-going speculation surrounding his future.
The 23-year-old Dutchman was in action for the Hoops in Thursday night’s 2-1 Europa League Group D win over Astra Giurgiu at Parkhead and, while the Romanian opposition didn’t provide the sternest test for his Premier League credentials, his assured presence on the back-line was clear for all to see.
|Vs Astra Giurgiu||Outfielder Blocks||Total Tackles||Total Clearances||Aerial Duels Won||Aerial Success||Interceptions||Total Passes||Pass Acc||Mins|
|Virgil van Dijk||1||0||4||3||100%||2||85||90.6%||90|
Signed from FC Gronigen last June for £2.6 million, Van Dijk was understood to be subject of a late-bid from Arsenal during the closing stages of the summer transfer window, and admitted this week that he is well aware of the club’s reported interest in his signature.
‘Arsenal is an amazing club, of course’, he told Sky Sports. ‘It’s a big club, but Celtic are as well. I am very happy right now here. I just want to play good games for Celtic and then see what happens.
‘There is no bidding right now. I have ambitious, of course, like every player. Celtic is an amazing club, with big history, an amazing stadium, fans and everything. There is no rush to leave or anything, but you never know in the future’.
Rated at £8 million, Van Dijk has broken into the Dutch national team since the start of the season and former Gunners favourite Giovani van Bronckhorst has claimed in the past that his compatriot has the talent to become the best defender in Europe.
Strong in the air, as well as comfortable on the ball, the former Eredivisie star fits the exact profile of what Wenger looks for in his central defenders and, having earned commendable reviews from last season’s Champions League performances against AC Milan and Barcelona, the potential step up to the Premier League shouldn’t prove too daunting.