Champions League group stages a must if Van Dijk is to stay at Celtic

Virgil van Dijk should consider his Celtic future if they fail to qualify for the Champions League group stage.

The speculation surrounding Virgil van Dijk’s future will come to a head in the summer, but if Celtic don’t qualify for the Champions League Group stage then he should seek that level of football elsewhere.

The 23-year-old centre-back has said – as reported by Sky Sports - that he is happy to stay at Celtic but also voiced concerns over his international career, stating in the Daily Record that Guus Hiddink doesn’t take Scottish football ‘too seriously’ as he continues to be overlooked from the Dutch international squad.

Southampton and Sunderland are just two of the Premier League clubs linked with the Celtic star, per the Daily Star, but a move away from Glasgow might not be in his best interests right now.

The defender has played some of his best football under Ronny Deila, while playing alongside on-loan Jason Denayer. The pair have formed a formidable defensive partnership, conceding just 14 goals in 29 games, and although the Belgian will return to Manchester City in the summer, Van Djik should consider a prolonged spell at Celtic to be a viable option.

If Celtic can make the group stage of the Champions League – which will be decided before the transfer window closes – then he should stay and showcase his talents on the European stage, something that he failed to do this season, with some of his poorest displays coming in European competitions.

Showing he can perform in Europe could easily help to further his international career and lead to a potentially bigger move this time next season to a club that has Champions League football and one that can further his development.

If Celtic fail to reach the group stage, then Van Dijk should be allowed to leave in order to further his career, but should be made fully aware how important playing regularly at a club like Celtic is compared to sitting on the bench every week.

If he does leave, the Hoops will be forced to assemble a new centre-back pairing and should start the search for reinforcements now to prevent any weaknesses come the likely Champions League qualifying campaign at the start of next season.

Register for MANCHESTER CITY team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch