Davie Hay: Van Dijk agent chat is premature for Celtic stopper

VIRGIL VAN DIJK's agent, Henk-Maarten Chin, has had a lot to say during Celtic's break between games.

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Virgil van Dijk's agent Henk-Maarten Chin has been sounding off about his client's prospects of a move elsewhere
Virgil van Dijk's agent Henk-Maarten Chin has been sounding off about his client's prospects of a move elsewhere

He's been telling everyone he believes his man will be off to a big club in England in a few months.

But, I'd have very few words to say to him, if I was Neil Lennon or Peter Lawwell: Back off.

I can understand why the agent feels the need to keep Virgil's name in the newspapers. He believes it's his job to promote his client.

But I reckon his comments are disrespectful to Celtic, and he needs to be careful he does not make things difficult for Virgil, either with the club or with the fans.

The supporters have been very positive in the way they have welcomed him to Celtic.

The last thing the young man needs is any negativity coming his way because his agent appears to be trying to get him out the door in double-quick time.

I know it's not Virgil who has been saying he expects to be away in the summer. But, to the best of my knowledge, he hasn't come out and contradicted his agent.

Virgil would be much better letting his football do the talking, not his agent. If he is playing well enough, attention will fall on him soon enough.

The lad has done exceptionally well in his first season. He quickly established himself as a first-choice defender and is now one of the best players in the side.

But he is just in the door and has not yet played 40 games for the club who picked him up from Groningen in the summer when others were reluctant to put down money.

He still can't break into the Dutch national team, despite the fact few of us could name the guys Louis van Gaal currently picks ahead of him.

That's a little reminder Virgil has come a long way - but has some way still to go.

It is not in the games against other Premiership teams that he will really be judged. It is in the Champions League.

And, while Chin claims Virgil was the only Celt who was "okay" when the Hoops lost 6-1 to Barcelona in the Nou Camp, I can't recall him looking all that comfortable.

Perhaps his agent is just suffering from selective memory.

It's on occasions like that we get to see just how much better the Celtic players, as individuals, need to become to compete at that level - Virgil included.

I don't want this to sound like I am knocking him. As I said, after a bit of a shaky start as he got to grips with the physicality and pace of the game here, he has had an exceptional first season.

But I really do believe it is a bit premature to be talking about him attracting the kind of offer which took Victor Wanyama to England.

Victor had spent two years developing in Neil's team, and had even scored in the victory over Barcelona at Celtic Park, during which he was superb.

That kind of thing gets you noticed. And, by the time Southampton beat Cardiff in the battle to sign him, he had been consistently showing his class and quality for over a year.

Is Virgil in that £12.5million bracket? He is headed in the right direction - but he is not there yet.

Unlike Gary Hooper, when he made it clear he wanted to go back to England, Virgil has a good few years left on his contract.

So, effectively, Celtic can tell him he is going nowhere for now.

It would not be that much of a gamble for the club as he is only 22, and his value is not going to drop if they keep him for another year.

I appreciate it is the club's strategy to unearth raw talent, develop it and sell it for a big profit.

But there has to be balance between making money and giving the boss the chance to build a side. It's not as though the club is desperate for cash.

Neil has admitted this has been a season of transition after they sold Victor, Gary and Kelvin Wilson last summer.

If Virgil and Fraser Forster - who is expected to be the subject of serious interest when the window opens - are allowed to leave, can you imagine how tough it is going to be heading into the vital Champions League qualifiers and play-off matches?

I am sure Neil doesn't even want to contemplate that scenario, given how much hinges on reaching the group stage.

But he needs - and deserves - a bit of stability, and that can't be achieved if his best players are continually sold.

The team needs to retain a hard core of quality, and Virgil and Fraser have that quality.

Any manager wants to get to a position where certain players pick themselves, and the form Virgil has shown for several months certainly puts him in that category.

His suspension means he will be missing tomorrow night. But here's hoping he makes many more appearances in the Hoops.


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