Virgil van Dijk opens up over Arsenal interest

Virgil van Dijk has told a Dutch newspaper that it's 'great' to be linked with Arsenal. Picture: SNS

Virgil van Dijk has told a Dutch newspaper that it's 'great' to be linked with Arsenal. Picture: SNS

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VIRGIL van Dijk has dropped further hints that he is eyeing a move to England, telling a Dutch newspaper that it’s ‘great’ to be linked with Arsenal.

Van Dijk, 23, told De Telegraaf: “I have been thinking a lot about my career recently. I am now 23 and have played at Willem II, FC Groningen and Celtic, and now I am linked to clubs like Arsenal. Isn’t that great?

“There are a lot of clubs interested, but Celtic are holding out for a big transfer fee. The club is clear - they don’t want to let me go in the winter because we’re playing for four trophies.”

Celtic are still in the running for the Europa League trophy, although they face a sizeable hurdle in Inter, while the Hoops are still in both domestic cup competitions and challenging for the Scottish Premiership title despite the attentions of Aberdeen.

Van Dijk, who also told the Dutch newspaper that he is keen to play more of a part in the national side, added: “I understand the club’s point of view, and I see it as a compliment that they don’t want to let me go.

“But we have to be realistic. If there’s a nice club from England, then we have to talk. I want to develop myself as a player.

“There are many beautiful things in the coming months to play for at Celtic. There are the Europa League games against Inter, we are still in the two cups and league. It’s only happened three times in history that Celtic have won the treble, so that’s a nice goal.”

Speaking to Dutch media during Celtic’s mid-season trip to Gran Canaria, van Dijk revealed his transfer to Celtic had not been part of his career plan.

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“For my development, it was a very good step,” he said. “Before I signed, I had a roadmap in my head and I thought to go from a second tier club, to a big Dutch side and from there to other countries.”

The defender revealed that there had been contact with both PSV Eindhoven - who defeated Celtic 1-0 in Maspalomas - and also Ajax, but that he had had doubts about joining them.

Away from domestic football, van Dijk is still eyeing a call-up to Guus Hiddink’s national side, having been called up to preliminary squads without being selected for the final team.

“It is now up to me to show that I can be part of the national side in the coming months. I am working hard every day to get better and get the most out of myself.

“I’m staying positive and hoping for a chance to show what I can do.”

The former Groningen player also hinted that playing in Scotland was damaging his international prospects, adding: “I often hear from the Netherlands that it is difficult to judge where I stand, because I play in the Scottish leagues.”

Van Dijk has been linked with a large number of clubs since joining Celtic, including Sevilla, Hamburg, Arsenal, Liverpool, Southampton, Sunderland and Newcastle.

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