John Collins gives mixed signals on the future of Celtic's Virgil van Dijk

The Celtic assistant manager couldn't rule out the Dutchman departing this summer.

Virgil van Dijk has excelled at Parkhead since his transfer from FC Groningen in 2013 and the 23-year old’s performance have drawn admiring glances from various clubs.

The defender is believed to want a new challenge and Sunderland have been strongly linked, as reported in The Telegraph, with former Rangers manager Dick Advocaat viewing the Celtic man as the perfect antidote to Sunderland’s defensive woes.

Celtic are desperate to hang on to the commanding centre-back, who has appeared 71 times and scored nine goals in his two seasons in Glasgow.

In a press conference earlier today, John Collins spoke to Sky Sports News HQ and revealed his take on the situation.

"Virgil van Dijk is staying, certainly for the Champions League qualifiers,” said the Celtic assistant manager.

"He has two years left on his contract. Everyone connected with Celtic loves Virgil. He's a great player and we want him to remain in a Celtic jersey this season."

Collins’ caveat of ‘certainly for the Champions League qualifiers’ will cause concern among Hoops fans.

Celtic enter the Champions League qualifiers at the second stage, with the ties to be played on the 14/15 and 21/22 of July. Should Celtic progress through to the play-off stage, their last game would be played on the 25th or 26th of August.

That still leaves plenty of time before the transfer window closes to facilitate Van Dijk’s departure. The thinking at Celtic may be that progression into the group stages of the Champions League would be enough to tempt the Dutch defender to stay but his sale, should they fail to qualify, would help to cover some of foregone Champions League revenue.

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