RONNY Deila believes he has effectively secured the services of a £10 million player for Celtic with the season-long loan signing of Belgian central defender Jason Denayer from Manchester City.
The 19-year-old, a protege of his compatriot and Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany, goes straight into the Celtic squad as they open their defence of the Scottish Premiership title against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park tonight.
Celtic manager Deila, who had close links with English champions City in his previous job at Norwegian club Stromsgodset, has admired Denayer for some time and expects his value to increase significantly over the next 12 months.
“He is going to be worth a lot of money,” said Deila. “He is worth a lot of money now. Is he a player worth £6m or £7m right now? I’d say he’s worth more, £10m.
“Could he come here and be worth £15m or £20m in a year? Yes, he could. He’s a very good player and he will have a great future – people will see it when he plays.
“He is ready to play for our first team now. I would not have brought him here otherwise. He is a quality player with a big future ahead of him. He is a guy I have watched many times, because Stromsgodset had a co-operation with Manchester City where they could put out some of their young players to develop.
“Jason is a very talented player, very close to breaking into the City first team. He is the kind of player who will suit us and how we want to play.”
Denayer is Deila’s fourth signing as Celtic manager, following the captures of previously unattached goalkeeper Craig Gordon, midfielder Jo Inge Berget on loan from Cardiff City and winger Alexsandar Tonev on loan from Aston Villa.
Gordon is set to make his competitive debut tonight, following the £10m sale of Fraser Forster to Southampton, but Tonev misses out with an injury which also makes him doubtful for the first leg of Celtic’s Champions League play-off round tie against Maribor in Slovenia next week.
Deila, meanwhile, insists the arrival of Denayer does not indicate the imminent sale of Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk, who has been consistently linked with a move to England.
“I think we are done in this window as far as sales are concerned,” said Deila. “But again, you never know in football. It’s about money.
“But so far there has been no interest in Virgil and he is important for us in the Champions League and in the Premiership as well.”