O’Neill targets Valgaeren as Celtic begin to build

CELTIC are set to make a bid for Joos Valgaeren, the central defender who featured in Belgium’s Euro 2000 campaign, playing in all three of the co-hosts Group B games.

Valgaeren is rated as a 4 million player, despite the fact he has only just broken into Belgium’s national side.

That promotion was founded on an outstanding season with Dutch side Roda JC, whom he helped to inspire to a national Cup triumph and a place in the UEFA Cup.

The recently-installed Celtic manager Martin O’Neill had the opportunity to study Valgaeren’s displays in depth during his stint as a BBC TV commentator throughout Euro 2000.

O’Neill indicated on his return to Glasgow that he is keen to sign several players he watched in the tournament. A mark of his intentions appears to be his success in persuading the Celtic board to fund a bid for the five-times capped defender.

English Premiership clubs Sunderland and Arsenal have previously shown interest in the Belgian player as have clubs in Germany and Roda’s Dutch rivals Feyenoord.

However, sources close to the Belgium camp in Brussels maintain that Celtic’s attempts to sign Valgaeren are the "most concrete" of all that have been made.

The versatile defender is also able to operate in midfield, and is said to keen to move to an ambitious and successful club.

Roda JC, based in the Dutch provincial city of Kerkrade, have reached the heights of their ambitions by winning their domestic cup. Club directors are aware of the widespread interest in their most valuable playing asset and they have accepted the fact that they will be unable to keep him.

A formal 4 million bid from the Parkhead club should take Valgaeren to Glasgow, and mark O’Neill’s first major signing as he attempts to narrow the gap on rivals Rangers.