Celtic manager Ronny Deila has signaled a change in the club’s strategy by insisting that Celtic will keep their prize assets this summer as they prepare for another crack at the Champions League. With both Player of the Year Stefan Johansen and the hugely impressive Virgil Van Dijk attacking interest from clubs in England and Europe, Deila insists that the pair are going nowhere in the summer. He told the media at Celtic Park yesterday that “we don’t need to sell them, we don’t want to sell them, so we’re going to keep them here. We want to go into the Champions League.
“Stefan has never been in the Champions League and Virgil needs a very good campaign with Champions League football. If he does well there it’s easy to get to the big clubs.
“I’ve said all the time that Virgil is a high class player and should go to one of the best clubs in Europe, not small clubs in England just because they have a lot of money.
“That’s what we want, we want to keep him here and develop him until he’s ready for that level.
“He has more to improve and he can still learn a lot here through the Champions League. He would get more experience and show what a class player he is.
“He has a contract here for many years and we want to improve him. The day we feel the right move is coming for him, and the money is right, then we have to discuss it. But he’s so important for us and I know he enjoys it every day at Celtic.
“We have to think of the best interests of the club as well as his. It’s no problem for him to go to a Champions League club.”
The Celtic manager was asked if an English club tabled a bid of £8m would Celtic accept?
The reply from Deila was encouraging for the Celtic support who are desperate for a decent run in the Champions League next season: “I would say no because we would get that in the Christmas window, maybe more.
“It’s much more money from being in the Champions League and we’d lose one of our best players. It’s an easy thing to talk about.”
Ronny also confirmed that his view is shared by Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawwell who must have been frustrated at missing out on the Champions League last autumn after receiving a Get out of Jail free card due to Legia Warsaw’s poor administration. “Peter would rather go to the Champions League than sell Virgil van Dijk.
“If we don’t make it then okay but then we have to take that decision after, we can’t do it before.
“We both want to get there. We don’t work in a way where he has his interests and I have mine – we have the same interests.
“We want the club to be in a very good way and the Champions League is the best thing for the club.”
Ronny also revealed a little about how he found out, while he was back home in Norway, that his Celtic side where 4IAR Champions: “I was finishing off the confirmation when I knew it. I have to admit, it wasn’t an unbelievable feeling.
“After we won on Friday night I was sure it was going the right way. I have had a good feeling for a long time now. It was a bit different to win the league here compared to Norway when we did it on the last day and nobody expected it.
“It was more controlled but still a very good feeling to have done it. We have got better during the season and hopefully that can continue.
“We want to develop the players and keep on playing attacking football.
“We are doing the groundwork now but we are going to build the team up even more.”