Tag Archives: Virgil van Dijk

Is Virgil van Dijk is the man to lead the Dutch defence?

When making the transition south of the border from the SPFL to the Premier League questions will naturally be asked of a player’s credentials; something Virgil van Dijk recognised himself: “The standard is much quicker than in Scotland. The ball is like a pinball machine. You have to concentrate. It took me some time to get used to it but I’m doing all right now.”

However, those who had followed Van Dijk during his time with the Scottish steamroller, Celtic, will know that these questions were gratuitous. The 24-year-old has taken to Premier League life with aplomb and Southampton and the Oranje are the beneficiaries writes Alex Blinston.

While Van Dijk may have flattered to deceive in the recent loss to Czech Republic, it was – as has been well documented – a scandalous showing from the whole Dutch side, so it would be foolish to evaluate Van Dijk’s second cap with a fine-tooth comb.

The departure of Toby Alderweireld from St Mary’s gave Ronald Koeman the task of finding a new partner to club captain Jose Fonte, with the Dutchman eventually opting for his compatriot. The £11.5 million that it took for Celtic to part with Van Dijk represented a sizeable investment – it made him the most The Saints most expensive defender in their history – but so far Koeman’s men are reaping great rewards from their investment.

Last term Southampton conceded just 33 goals – a tally only bettered by eventual champions Chelsea – and back-to-back clean sheets against Bournemouth and Sunderland are showing signs of real defensive steel, something which Van Dijk has been an integral part of.

Hitherto, only six players average more clearances in the Premier League than the 24-year-old (7.9) and Van Dijk making 93% of the tackles he attempts. While you’d expect someone of a 6ft 4in frame to be domineering in the air, Van Dijk posts exceptional aerial duel figures by any measure. Only Sebastian Bassong has won more aerial battles (47) than Van Dijk (46) in the Premier League this term, but to give this context it has taken him 360 minutes more to do so. Furthermore, the Dutchman averages a successful aerial battle every 15.1 minutes of action, a tally only Calum Chambers can boast to better.

While Van Dijk is evidently stellar in his defensive duties, his ability in possession certainly can’t be overlooked. The fact that the centre-back pairing of Fonte and Van Dijk lead Southampton in average passes per game – first and second respectively – epitomises Ronald Koeman’s philosophy of playing out from the back. Southampton’s No.17 averages 47.9 passes per game and does so at an impressive 84.6% pass success rate, with van Dijk still yet to be dispossessed in the Premier League.

None of the centre-back trio that starred at the 2014 World cup – Stefan de Vrij (injury), Ron Vlaar and Bruno Martins Indi – were called up to Danny Blind’s most recent squad; now is the time for Van Dijk. With the Dutch now at rock bottom, expectations have been reset and it could – underline the word could – prove to be a fertile environment for Van Dijk and the fellow inexperienced members of the side. In Van Dijk, Terrence Kongolo, Joel Veltman and Jairo Riedewald, Blind has an abundance of young blood at the heart of defence and although it may not get the pulse racing, building solid defensive foundations to build on could prove to be the best option.

Arguments could certainly be made that Virgil van Dijk has been the standout defender in the Premier League this term – his Whoscored.com average rating (7.80) which ranks top of the pile of all defenders would certainly provide evidence to this. While the Southampton summer exodus has become a formality in recent times, van Dijk is in the perfect place to flourish, particularly with Koeman at the helm. Football is beautifully unpredictable and dynamics can easily change, but it is easy to envisage Virgil van Dijk and Ronald Koeman eventually teaming up with Het Wilhelmus ringing out.

*Stats courtesy of Opta Sports

 

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Saints keen to seal £8m million deal for Celtic’s Van Dijk

  • Southampton are keen to sign defender Virgil van Dijk from Celtic this summer as they look too shore up their defence.
  • The Dutchman is likely to seek pastures new after his side was knocked out of the Champions League by Swedish side Malmo.
  • It is understood that Ronald Koeman is monitoring the situation and is set to offer £8 million for the 24 year-old.
  • The St. Mary’s side have previously been linked with Sven Van Beek and Terence Kongolo two versatile defenders who currently play for Koeman’s previous club Feyenoord in the Eredivisie.

Southampton are keen to sign Virgil Van Dijk from Scottish Champions Celtic for £8 million, which looks likely to happen before the end of the transfer window on Tuesday.  The Dutch centre back is said to favour a move away from Parkhead after his side were recently knocked out the Champions League by Swedish side Malmo in their recent qualifier on Tuesday night. The Dutch International has stated: “It’s a terrible way if it ends like this but I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

The defender is also thought to of known about the speculation regarding a move to the South Coast, but when asked he stated: “I can’t say anything. I think you need to ask the board. I don’t know what will happen in the coming days. Celtic is an amazing club and I’m very thankful for everything they have done for me.”

Van Dijk was signed in 2013 by Celtic for a fee of around £2.5 million, from FC Groningen were he spent a full season, before moving to Ronny Delia’s side on a four-year deal. At 6ft 4ins he has the physical stature to deal with the rigours of Premier League football.

He was part of the defence that went 1,215 minutes without conceding a goal, breaking the 43-year-old Scottish League record set by Aberdeen’s keeper Bobby Clark. Van Dijk has also won Celtic’s player of the year award for 2014.

With Toby Alderweireld signing for Tottenham Hotspur and Sven Van Beek along with Terence Kongolo interest cooling, boss Ronald Koeman will be looking to get the deal over line as soon as possible.

Arsenal and Swansea have also been linked with the defender in recent times. It is thought that the defender may prefer the switch to Southampton after Fraser Forster and Victor Wanyama have both made the move to the Saints from Celtic.

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Contrary to the Dutch philosophy; the Oranje backline seems evident for silverware

The key to being successful in ‘The Beautiful Game’ is defense; as the old saying goes “Offense wins games, Defense wins championships”. For ‘Oranje’, the latter seems to always take a back seat, but with defensive clubs such as Chelsea and Juventus having remarkable success, maybe it is time for the Netherlands to change their perspective. With talented young defenders moving up through the ranks of their respective clubs, there could be a new horizon for the Netherlands. So here is a look at a few promising defenders that could take Holland from contender to champions.  Thomas Tittley writes…

VIRGIL VAN DIJK

The 23-year-old defender for Celtic has flourished in the Scottish Premiership and is now ready to move on, as he has been linked to both Everton and Southampton. Van Dijk has dominated the Scottish league and while some sceptics will claim it is a rather weak league, he has proven his talents by playing exceptionally well in Europe.  Van Dijk is a tall 6-foot-3 (1.93m), and is a bull on defense, using his size and strength and athleticism to overpower attacking players. Capable of muscling strong center forwards off the ball, while having the pace to keep up with quick and shifty wingers, Van Dijk averaged 0.7 tackles a game in Europe. Virgil has also shown his aptitude tactically as well, averaging an outstanding 3.4 interceptions a game in. To put that into perspective, Chelsea, one of the top defensive teams in England, averaged a total of 9.8 per game. Hopefully for Van Dijk, and Dutch fans, he will soon get his first international cap and be a part of a winning culture.

STEFAN DE VRIJ

The young central defender from Lazio has been a part of the Netherlands senior squad for a number of years now as the 23-year-old has already made 27 appearances, even wearing the captain’s armband during Holland’s friendly against Spain on March 31st after Sneijder left the pitch. He impressed during the bronze medal World Cup run as he appeared in every match that Holland played, even scoring the third goal of the 5-1 thrashing that the Netherlands handed Spain in the first game. This is proof that De Vrij is highly respected within the dressing room and by the coaching staff. Fortunately, it is not only his leadership and poise that are his desired attributes, his skill on the football pitch is evident. Like Van Dijk he is also rarely caught out of position, averaging 3.6 interceptions a game and 6.1 clearances a game, comparing that to the legendary Sergio Ramos, who only averaged 2.4 interceptions and 3.9 clearances, De Vrij’s numbers are extraordinary. If Holland are to succeed, De Vrij will have to continue to show his skills on the pitch and in the dressing room.

JETRO WILLEMS

If you could create a left-back in a simulator, it would be Jetro Willems, a player with dynamic pace able to bomb forward and harass defences, while still able to track back and help his own back line. It is that dynamic pace that leaves managers around the world salivating over his potential. Not only does the young man possess vast amounts of pace, but the ability to pick a pass. The electrifying winger linked up well with now former teammate Memphis Depay to create a devastating left wing attack, and when able to get by a defender, possesses great quality in his left foot and whip in crosses to devastating effect. Willems accumulated a staggering thirtheen assists this season in the Eredivisie, second most behind only Hakim Ziyech. To put that into perspective, the closest defender to that assist total was Bart van Hintum with 7, which put him tied for 14th in the league. But with his partner Depay gone, there is much speculation that Willems could also be headed out of the Eredivisie. Young Willems surprisingly made the 2012 Euro cup squad and even played in a handful of games, although nothing extraordinary. He has improved drastically since then, particularly attacking-wise, and will look to be the long-term left back for the Oranje in the future.

DARYL JANMAAT

Janmaat was a Dutchman who had a bit of a coming out party during the 2014-2015 season with Newcastle United. The 25-year-old right back moved from Feyenoord last season and struggled early on trying to adapt to the pace and physicality of the Premier League, but he eventually settled in and became one of Newcastle’s only consistent players. A very attacking right-back, Janmaat is strong in the tackle and has a sharp eye for making key passes that dissect opposing defences. Daryl totalled six assists this season, impressive for a right-back, particularly one that had an incredibly stagnant offense like Newcastle. Something Janmaat specializes in is the long pass, making 2.1 long passes a game, crucial for a team trying to attack when transitioning from defence to offense. This type of pass is particularly effective when wingers who possess immense amounts of pace are on the receiving end of the pass. With players who possess this type of speed such as Arjen Robben, Memphis Depay, Quincy Promes, Eljero Elia and Jeremain Lens available, the long pass could be the difference between winning and losing. Fortunately, Janmaat also takes care of his defensive responsibilities, tallying 2.8 tackles a game, tied for 20th in the entire Premier League, remarkable for a player more known for his ability to dribble at defenders and attacking flare. Janmaat could be the key that unlocks the treasure chest of trophies available for the Netherlands in the years to come.

These young men will have to continue to develop and improve if Holland wish to become truly elite and finally win that ever elusive World Cup.

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Southampton interest for Celtic defender

While Gus Poyet sent scouts to watch Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk, it appears the Dutchman is keen to team up with countryman Ronald Koeman at Southampton. It seems a prerequisite to declaring interest in the 23-year-old is that your club name starts with the letter S, with Swansea, Sunderland and now Southampton in the mix.

Celtic are looking for £10 million for their man, a figure that has scared away teams who enquired previously but with the Dejan Lovren to Liverpool rumours that just won’t go away and a decent transfer budget being handed to Koeman, he has van Dijk in his sights as a replacement for the Croatian if he leaves.

Koeman is desperate to hold on to the services of Lovren, but has stated that if he is to leave then only the healthiest of bids will suffice. The new Dutch boss also believed he has a capable replacement in the form of van Dijk, and with the Dutch connection, it is believed to be a move that both parties are keen on.

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Sunderland chase Celtic defender

According to today’s Daily Record, the latest Dutchman to be linked to the Premier League currently plies his trade in Scotland in the heart of Glasgow Celtic’s defence. 23-year-old Virgil van Dijk has been scouted by Sunderland ahead of a possible bid that would probably need to far exceed the £2.6 million that his current team paid FC Groningen for his services.

In his first season at Parkhead, he won the Player of the Year award and has impressed largely since his summer move last year. Swansea were previously linked to the big centre-half, but were scared off by his hefty price tag placed on him by Celtic, who are in no hurry to sell the constantly improving defender.

After a deal for Ashley Williams fell through, the Black Cats manager Gus Poyet seems keen on van Dijk to fill a void left by the release of Carlos Cueller and Andrea Dossena in their defense. The aging Wes Brown and John O’Shea are currently holding down the fort but a young aggressive defender who can score goals would be perfect for a team in transition and Gus Poyet seems keen to make that happen if his recent scouting is anything to go by.

Van Dijk began his career at FC Groningen where he appeared 62 times scoring seven times, and moved to Glasgow in 2013 where he appeared for Celtic 36 times scoring five times.

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Celtic set to lose commanding defender?

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Celtic’s Dutch central defender Virgil van Dijk is set to leave the Scottish Premiership champions at the end of the season according to his agent, Henk-Maarten Chin.

The 22-year old has been a revelation in the Celtic defence this season since his £2.6 million summer move from FC Groningen last year.

Due to his success he has been linked with a move away throughout the season with a host of Barclays Premier League clubs, including Manchester United and Manchester City waiting in the wings to take the big Dutchman to the North-West of England.

Yesterday, his agent, Henk-Maarten Chin, stated that the Celtic defender could certainly be leaving Parkhead in the summer, although he did admit no club has bid so far.

Speaking to the Scotsman, Chin said: “There is certainly interest. Many English clubs are interested in him – many top clubs. They watch him and are very keen but there has been no official approach for Virgil yet, but that will come after the season ends.

“There’s certainly far more interest in him than we could have dreamed of and I expect something will happen for him this summer.”

“Celtic were completely outplayed by Barcelona, but Virgil was the only player who was OK and against AC Milan, he made a great impression in his battles against a top player like Mario Balotelli.”

The player is yet to comment on his agent’s words but one thing is for sure, it is every player’s dream to play for his country and since Van Dijk’s move to Scotland, he has been overlooked by Oranje coach Louis van Gaal despite the defender’s incredible form.

Van Gaal has been selecting young Eredivisie defenders like Ajax’s Joel Veltman, Feyenoord’s pair Stefan de Vrij and Terence Kongolo, PSV’s Jeffrey Bruma and Karim Rekik while these five players have showed weaknesses all season that Virgil has not.

Anyone who watched the Eredivisie last season will be shocked by Van Dijk’s exclusion in the Dutch squad but will not be surprised by the interest shown in him by other clubs. In fact I remember writing at the start of the season, my shock that this player chose Celtic to advance his career.

No disrespect to Scottish champions, as I am fully aware of the massive size and support of the club but I honestly thought a move to the Premiership, where the big money and the vast exposure is available for players, would have suited Van Dijk and especially his agent better.

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Van Dijk joins Celtic

In a major coup for the Glasgow club, Netherlands Under-21 centre-back Virgil van Dijk has signed a four-year contract with Scottish champions Celtic.

The highly sought 21-year-old has joined in a £2.6m deal from FC Groningen, for whom he made 37 appearances last season, with a 10% sell-on fee for the Dutch club.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon stated: “Delighted that we have acquired Virgil van Dijk… a highly talented young player.”

Virgil van Dijk – the big centre-back has signed a four-year deal at Scottish champions Celtic

Van Dijk moved to FC Groningen from Willem II in 2011 and had two years left on his contract at Groningen, and the young defender stated his delight in signing for the SPL champions and looking for to playing in the Champions League.

“Celtic is the biggest club in Scotland and they also play in the Champions League,” he said. “They’re a fantastic club and when Celtic came in for me I was so excited. Everything here is good so I can’t wait to get started.”

Standing at a massive 6ft 4inches, Van Dijk should fit right in the rough and tumbles of the SPL: “I hope to play many games for my country in the future but first of all I want to make things happen here. I’m a strong defender and I’m good in the air, but I also like to play football on the ground, and I hope that we’ll do even better than we did last season. I think I can bring something extra to the team and we will see how it works out. I’m ready for everything. I love to play football but I do love getting into duels.”

The pull of Champions League football seems to be the main reason the Jong Oranje defender has joined The Hoops and the Champions League qualifying draw will be made on 24 June, with Celtic’s first match scheduled for 19th or 20th July.

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