The Scottish Premiership may have turned into one of European football’s backwaters, but recent examples suggest perennial winners Celtic should be high up any lists of potential destinations for young goal-stoppers.
Southampton snapped up goalkeeper Fraser Forster and holding-midfielder Victor Wanyama from Parkhead for around £25m combined over the past two summers.
Their reward for this perceived gamble has been the fewest goals conceded in the Premier League this term, bar champions Chelsea, with the pair’s value skyrocketing as a result; £25m probably wouldn’t buy 23-year-old Wanyama alone now.
Celtic are on course to concede fewer Scottish Premiership strikes this season than in either of the previous two campaigns since Rangers were bumped down the league ladder, largely thanks to the efforts of sought-after centre-back duo Virgil van Dijk and Jason Denayer.
After a couple of seasons in Glasgow, 23-year-old Van Dijk seems likely to scarper this summer, having been quoted saying as much in recent days:
“Celtic are a great club with a fantastic stadium and the fans are great. Only the competition is not too good. I want to develop. If the opportunity is there, I will definitely consider a transfer. But maybe there will be nothing …”
Sunderland are the latest Premier League side linked with the Dutchman, although Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham and Southampton have all been mentioned as possible suitors over the past 12 months.
Hoops boss Ronny Deila wants Van Dijk to stay in Scotland for just one more year to develop before heading to one of the continent’s finest, but it’s hard not to suspect the Norwegian’s motives considering Celtic will reportedly lose on-loan Manchester City youngster Denayer.
The deposed Premier League champions are thought to be keen on sending the teenager to the Championship on a temporary basis, while Newcastle (6/1 to be relegated to the second tier at the end of this term) have been linked with a loan swoop on the Etihad/Parkhead for his services.
However, after sampling Europa League football against the likes of Internazionale and Red Bull Salzburg this season, Denayer should resist rocking up at the St James’ Park big top in favour of another year under Deila.
There’s every chance Celtic will make the Champions League group stages in 2015/16, and after picking up PFA Scotland’s Young Player of the Year award, and gatecrashing the Team of the Year, it’s clear Denayer won’t want for accolades.
Of course, if the youngster has any sense he’ll insist on a loan recall wherever he goes, the way City’s centre-half duo Vincent Kompany and Eliaquim Mangala have played this term…