CELTIC will find it difficult to retain the services of Virgil van Dijk if they fail to reach the group stage of the Champions League this season.
That’s the view of Ronny Deila’s assistant John Collins ahead of tomorrow night’s crucial meeting with Qarabag at Parkhead.
The Dutch defender has been consistently linked with a move to the English top flight and Everton and Southampton are keenly monitoring his present situation.
Van Dijk, 24, is under contract at the four-in-a-row champions until 2017, but has made no secret of his ambition to play in England where he believes his prospects of breaking into the Dutch national team will be enhanced.

Collins admitted: “It will probably be harder to keep him if we don’t qualify.

“But, hopefully, we won’t have to deal with that scenario. I am not surprised there is talk about Virgil. When you are a good player, there is going to be speculation.
“But he’s a Celtic player. He trains very well and is fully focused. He’s 24 now and has matured. He understands. There’s been plenty of talks with Virgil. He has to focus on what he can control – his training and his performances.

“For me, the biggest competition in the world is the Champions League. That’s where every player wants to play, every coach wants to coach and every supporter wants to be.

“It’s the biggest and best. You are up against the best players and coaches in the world. It’s exciting for everyone involved.

“If you are a centre-half playing in the Champions League you are up against the best forwards in the world. It’s a great challenge and if you do well in the Champions League it puts you on a different level.

“People look at you in a different light if you are taking care of top-class strikers. There is also the financial part of the story, of course.”

In addition to trying to hold on to Van Dijk, Celtic are hopeful of making further additions to their squad before the transfer window closes at the end of next month.

Collins dismissed reports in the Dutch media linking them with Den Haag striker Michiel Kramer – “close, but wrong country” was his response to those claims.

He added: “We have a good healthy squad right now. But, like every manager or coach will tell you, it can always get better.

“You always look at players to improve each department. It’s not easy.

“Obviously, there are financial constraints, but there are also good players at the club so it’s not always easy to get better ones in. Time will tell if we bring any more in.”
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