Why win over Astra could see £8m Van Dijk stay at Celtic

The Dutch defender is in demand with Southampton and Newcastle linked with moves, but another Europa League win could see things change.

Celtic head to Romania this week knowing that victory over Group D opponents Astra Giurgiu could all but confirm their progress to the knockout stages of the Europa League, provided Red Bull Salzburg also see off Dinamo Zagreb.

But there could be an extra incentive for Ronny Deila to push for a win, with victory potentially securing the services of highly-rated Dutch defender Virgil Van Dijk until the end of the season and maybe even beyond.

The 23-year-old ex-Groningen star, who arrived at Parkhead in June 2013 for £2.6 million, has been linked with a move to the Premier League in recent months, having impressed for the Bhoys over the past two seasons.

Newcastle United were linked with a move for Van Dijk, prior to the close of the summer transfer window, while Southampton were also thought to be keen on recruiting the £8 million-rated Holland international.

Deila was forced to refute claims that Van Dijk would be leaving over the summer and while many have suggested since that the stopper could seek a move in January or at the end of the season, things have changed considerably since those rumours first broke.

Celtic, for one thing, have enjoyed an upturn in form with the likes of John Guidetti firing the Bhoys to five straight wins going into this game and with the good times starting to roll again at Celtic Park.

Another major factor could well come in the form of the upcoming Old Firm derby meeting with Rangers.

Van Dijk has yet to experience the atmosphere and adrenaline that comes with what remains one of the biggest games in world football and with the ‘Gers still on course for a top-flight return next term, this cup contest could give the Dutchman a taste of what to expect next year.

Above all else in terms of decisive factors, however, is Celtic’s current European form, which could yet be enough to convince the defender to opt against a move to a mid-table Premier League club.

When the Bhoys crashed out of the Champions League against both Legia Warsaw and NK Maribor, no one was more disappointed than Van Dijk, with the player seemingly agitating for a move away in the wake of those results.

But with Celtic seemingly turning a corner in the Europa League, where they have played well enough to be one win away from qualification for the next phase, Van Dijk may want to rethink his future.

After all, one of the key reasons for the Dutchman seeking a move away was to break into the Holland national team – something that has been achieved this term.

And with Celtic still on course to return to the Champions League next season all the wiser for their Europa League endeavours, he’s more likely to enjoy football at the continent’s top table with the Hoops than he is with Newcastle or Southampton.

No one is disputing the notion that Van Dijk will one day leave Parkhead but a win away at Astra should be enough to help him realise the time to go is most definitely not now.

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