John Collins admits Virgil van Dijk could leave unless Celtic secure Champions League football

The Dutch defender is reportedly being chased by several Premier League clubs this summer, including Everton and Southampton.

Celtic assistant boss and playing legend John Collins has admitted to the press just how important it is that the Bhoys make the Champions League proper in the coming season, in quotes appearing in Belfast Live.

Aside from it being vital to get the club back in the elite competition, the 47-year-old admitted that star player Virgil van Dijk's future in Glasgow looks like hinging on whether Celtic qualify for the group stages, having missed out at the final hurdle last summer.

The Scottish champions take on Azerbaijan side Qarabag tonight at Celtic Park, having dispatched the best Iceland could offer in FC Stjarnan last week, something that Collins discussed in relation to Everton's reported interest in the Dutchman.

"I am not surprised there is talk about Virgil," he is quoted as saying in Belfast Live. "When you are a good player there is going to be speculation.

“It’s another club mentioned today, I am sure there will be another next week. He’s a Celtic player.

“Would it be difficult to keep him if we don’t make the Champions League? Probably. But hopefully we won’t have to deal with that scenario."

The 24-year-old defender has shone since arriving from Groningen in 2013, but the Dutchman has been linked with several Premier League clubs this summer, business Celtic have understandably been reluctant to consider.

The Toffees are only the latest side to be linked to the player, with Southampton and Sunderland proving Van Dijk's quality by being considered by their respective Dutch managers, according to the likes of ESPN.

All three Premier League clubs have been working hard to bring in central defensive players this summer, with each being frustrated at one point or another.

Bhoys supporters might suggest there are few UK-based centre backs who have impressed as much as Van Dijk in the last couple of years, so it is only natural that clubs south of the border have been hovering.

Though Celtic may have a fight on their hands to keep him in Glasgow as long as they would like, a strong season in Europe's premier club competition will surely prove an attractive bargaining chip in convincing Van Dijk to stay for another season or two.

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