Villarreal target Celtic player as replacement for Russia-linked star

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La Liga side Villarreal have earmarked Celtic defender Dedryck Boyata as a key target - if they lose defender Victor Ruiz to Zenit St Petersburg in January.

The Russian Premier League side are keen on the Barcelona-born stopper, who has had spells with Espanyol, Napoli and Valencia and could make a move for the 29-year-old.

Villarreal are reportedly keen on a key Celtic player. Picture: Getty Images

Villarreal are reportedly keen on a key Celtic player. Picture: Getty Images

Should that happen, the Yellow Submarine are prepared to go after Boyata, who was linked with Sevilla and Galatasaray during the Scottish transfer window but ended up staying at Celtic Park, according to Marca.

Marca claims that there has been contact with Villarreal in the last 24 hours or so.

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The Belgian defender, who played all of his country’s group games at the World Cup earlier this summer, played in Celtic’s 1-0 win over rivals Rangers in last weekend’s Old Firm clash.

Celtic are understood to have not given up hope of convincing Boyata to sign a new deal, after he scored the winner against Hamilton and was part of the defence that kept a clean sheet against the Gers.

If Boyata is keen on a mvoe, however, he can sign a pre-contract from January onwards - or leave for a fee.