RONNY Deila feels it would make better business sense for Celtic not to sell star defender Virgil van Dijk, Rangers goalkeeper Steve Simonsen has slammed the SFA for ruining his Ibrox career, and Ann Budge targets a top six SPFL Premiership return after Hearts secure a seven-figures shirt deal with Save the Children.
Keeping Virgil will help us qualify for UCL - Deila
Ronny Deila believes Celtic should keep Virgil van Dijk rather than sell him to the highest bidder, believing it makes better financial sense for the centre back to help the club reach the Champions League group stages. Deila called van Dijk the “leader” of his defence and says he is “vital” to the team. (The Herald)
• The player himself insists he’s not dwelling on his absence from the Dutch national squad but is instead focused on winning the domestic treble with Celtic. Van Dijk has yet to play for the national side and hasn’t received a call up since October, prompting onlookers to wonder if he should move away from Parkhead to earn himself greater respect in the eyes of Netherlands’ coach Guus Hiddink. (The Scotsman)
• Former Celtic defender Tom Boyd believes Jason Denayer’s recent call-up for Belgium proves that playing in the Scottish Premiership doesn’t restrict players from earning international caps. Denayer has made 34 appearances so far this season after joining on a year’s loan from Manchester City. (The Scotsman)
Celtic admit admiration for Danny Wilson
Celtic manager Ronny Deila has confirmed his admiration for Hearts captain Danny Wilson as he assesses his central defensive options for next season.
The future of Celtic’s current first choice centre-halves, Virgil van Dijk and Jason Denayer, is uncertain with both players potentially in line to be performing in the English Premier League after the summer.
It has emerged that Wilson, who has skippered Hearts to their emphatic Scottish Championship title success this season, is on a list of potential replacements drawn up by Deila’s scouting department. (The Scotsman)
Steve Simonsen accuses SFA of ruining his Rangers career
Rangers goalkeeper Steve Simonsen has accused the SFA of ruining his career with the Ibrox club after the stopper avoided being hit with a 16 game ban for betting offences.
Simonsen was originally handed a two-match ban, one suspended, after admitting to betting on 55 matches over the course of 14 months. He never placed a bet on any match featuring his own club and only spent £200 on the bets. (Daily Record)
• Former Rangers defender Fernando Ricksen says he’s too concentrated on living his life to be concerned with dying. The Dutchman was diagnosed with motor neurone disease seven months ago and was given just 15 months to live, though he insists he feels good and will be around for “a long time”. (Daily Record)
Hearts strike shirt deal with Save the Children
Hearts have announced a ground-breaking partnership with a world-renowned charity that will see the Tynecastle club carry the Save the Children logo on their home and away shirts for the next three seasons.
The result is an innovative tie-up that ensures Hearts and Save the Children together will receive what Budge described as “a significant seven-figure sum” over three years. The exact amount is believed to be around £1.5 million. (The Scotsman)
• Hearts chairperson Ann Budge has set a top-six target for the club in its return to the Scottish Premiership next season. A top-six place, she said, was “the minimum” Hearts should be aiming for. “If we finish sixth, we will be happy. I would like to think we will finish above that.” (The Scotsman)
Hibs ‘better placed’ to snatch second spot - Murray
Dumbarton boss Ian Murray believes Hibs have the advantage in the battle for second place because Rangers have a tougher run-in. Stuart McCall’s side clawed back a six-point gap in the last two games and many feel they now have the momentum down the stretch.
However, Murray feels that because Rangers have to play Hearts twice it gives the advantage to Alan Stubbs’s team. (Daily Record)
• Stubbs is looking to tie down his star players on new contracts with a number of current Easter Road deals expiring in the summer.
Tomas Cerny, Liam Craig, Liam Fontaine, Fraser Fyvie, Scott Robertson and Lewis Stevenson are all out of contract this summer, while loans for Mark Oxley, Keith Watson and Dylan McGeouch expire. (Daily Record)
News in brief
• Partick Thistle striker Lyle Taylor is back in contention for this weekend’s fixture with Aberdeen after being called up to the Montserrat national side. (The Herald)
• Rangers boss Stuart McCall welcomed competition for places within his squad which has given him a selection headache just a couple of weeks after he struggled to pick eleven players for the starting line-up. (The Herald)
• Livingston could be on the verge of a takeover after being hit with a £5,000 fine by the SFA for Neil Rankine’s involvement with two SPFL clubs. (The Herald)
• Dundee prospect Craig Wighton is wanted by English Premier League club West Brom. The highly touted 17-year old is also on the radar of Sunderland, Southampton and Swansea City. (The Courier)
• Dundee United have published a report warning about their financial future despite making a £1.2m profit for the year ending June 2014. (The Courier)
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