Celtic’s Virgil Van Dijk ‘very happy’, says Deila

Virgil van Dijk has a smile back on his face after his dream move to the Barclays Premier League was blocked by Celtic, according to manager Ronny Deila.

Virgil Van Dijk is smiling again as he refocuses on his Celtic career. Picture: Rob Casey
Virgil Van Dijk is smiling again as he refocuses on his Celtic career. Picture: Rob Casey

The Parkhead boss did not think the Dutch defender was in the right frame of mind for the trip to Dundee the day before the transfer window closed after being informed he would be going nowhere despite reported interest from clubs such as Newcastle, Sunderland and Swansea.

The 23-year-old missed the 1-1 draw at Dens Park but Deila insists he has returned from his first call-up to Holland’s senior squad “very happy” and ready to focus on his Hoops career, which will resume with the league visit of Aberdeen on Saturday.

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“He was fantastic in training today,” said Deila. “He is smiling. It is no problem.  

“We speak all the time. People can wish for things but if you don’t get your wishes sometimes you know how lucky you are to be in the situation you are in.

“He spoke about taking a new step in his career and thought that it was important but he also understands the situation at the club.

“He is at a very big club and he has opportunities to achieve here. I don’t think that he needs to leave to play in the national team.

“He is one of the best players I have seen when he is at the top of his game.

“He just needs to be consistent and if he does that with Celtic I can’t understand why he can’t be picked for the national squad.”

The former Stromsgodset boss revealed that the knee injury Charlie Mulgrew picked up playing for Scotland against Germany in Dortmund on Sunday “could take some time” to heal.

However, he hopes skipper Scott Brown could make his first appearance of the season against the Pittodrie men.

The Hoops boss has not been able to call upon the services of the Scotland midfielder after he injured a hamstring in a pre-season friendly against Rapid Vienna and thus described him as akin to a “new signing”.

“He is training well so he could maybe play on Saturday,” said Deila. “We will see.

“Everybody knows how important Scott Brown is for Celtic.

“He is the leader, he shows the way and he will be a huge player to get back on the pitch.”

Deila returned from the international break to a strengthened Celtic squad which contains four players yet to make their debut.

Winger Aleksandar Tonev, on a season-long loan from Aston Villa, is still struggling to shake off a groin injury.

However, Ghanaian winger Wakaso Mubarak, on a one-year loan deal from Rubin Kazan, Serbian striker Stefan Scepovic, who signed a four-year contract from Sporting Gijon on transfer deadline day, and Swedish forward John Guidetti, who arrived on loan from Manchester City, could all get some game time against the Dons.

Guidetti distanced himself from any comparison with former Celtic striker and fellow Swede, Henrik Larsson, who became a Hoops hero for what he achieved at Parkhead between 1997 and 2004.

“It is very harsh to be compared to someone like Henrik Larsson because what he did here was not normal,” said the 22-year-old

“It was truly amazing.

“And if I can do a small toenail of what he did it would be amazing.

“I am going to keep my head down, work hard and give 110 per cent and hopefully the fans will like that.”

Guidetti spoke about the benefit of training with the superstars at City.

He said: “It is not easy to play at Manchester City as a young player.

“It is a competitive team but I have been training with some of the best players in the world and that makes you a better player.

“You show what you can do in games but in training is where you develop.

“But you miss playing games. That is what you enjoy the most.

“Scoring a goal in front of a lot of people is the best feeling in the world and something I am addicted to and when you get addicted to something you want it more and more.

“That is what I have missed.”