Sunderland face test of patience to land Celtic’s Virgil van Dijk

Virgil van Dijk
Virgil van Dijk
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Sunderland face a wait for defensive target Virgil van Dijk, with Celtic keen to keep the centre-half until at least the end of the Champions League qualification stage.

The Black Cats have been tracking van Dijk for the past year, with the 23-year-old publicly stressing his eagerness to move to the Premier League.

But Celtic assistant manager John Collins says van Dijk will remain at Parkhead during the Champions League qualifiers, which get underway next month and run until August.

“Virgil van Dijk is staying, certainly for the Champions League qualifiers,” said Collins.

“He has two years left on his contract. Everyone connected with Celtic loves Virgil. He’s a great player and we want him to remain in a Celtic jersey this season.

“He is such an important and commanding player for us. He stops goals going in at one end and scores them at the other so we want to keep him.”

Meanwhile, Collins has confirmed that Celtic will be priced out of a move for Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher, despite their interest in the Scottish international.

Fletcher would need to take a significant pay cut to join Celtic, even if Sunderland are willing to offload the £12million frontman, who only has a year remaining on his contract at the Stadium of Light.

“They (Fletcher and Watford’s Ikechi Anya) are two players I like,” added Collins.

“But they are Premier League players and everyone knows what the salaries are like in the Premier League.”