Celtic: Ronny Deila hopeful of Virgil Van Dijk stay

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Celtic manager Ronny Deila talks to the media before Tuesday's Champions League play-off second leg against Malmo.
Champions League play-off second leg: Malmo v Celtic (agg 2-3)
Venue: Swedbank Stadion, Malmo Date: Tuesday 25 August Kick-off: 19:45 BST Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Scotland, live text on BBC Sport website

Ronny Deila insists Virgil Van Dijk's future at Celtic is not dependent on the Glasgow side reaching the Champions League group stage.

Southampton have talked to Celtic about the 24-year-old Dutch central defender.

"We don't need to sell Virgil," said his manager before Tuesday's play-off second leg against Malmo.

"I have said that a thousand times and I am tired of talking about him. He is still a Celtic player and hopefully he'll be that for a long, long time."

There was similar links with English clubs a year ago and Van Dijk remained at Celtic Park despite their failure to reach the Champions League group stage.

Asked if there were any guarantees the Dutchman would remain with the Scottish champions this season, Deila said: "I haven't talked to him, but he has signed a contract and that's a big guarantee.

"First, we have to get through and we can talk about that afterwards. That's the goal - to keep the best players at Celtic.

"He is an unbelievably good football player and Celtic is a big club and hopefully the scenario is in the Champions League and Virgil van Dijk at Celtic Park in the group stages."

Celtic have lost two goals in three of their last four games, including that 3-2 victory in the first leg over Malmo.

Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk in training in Malmo
Virgil Van Dijk has been linked with English clubs

But Deila said: "We have gone six months now without losing and I never think about what we do if we lose or concede.

"Our defence was the best in Scottish history last season.

"We have conceded more goals recently, but the opposition aren't creating more chances - they have been scoring with every chance."

Malmo players and coach Age Hareide have been talking up their own chances while highlighting Celtic's deficiencies, but Deila again laughed off the comments.

"We know that the quality we have in our team is enough when we are at our best," he said.

"We won at the weekend and rested a lot of players and we have the perfect build-up to this game.

"We showed at Celtic Park that we are a better team than Malmo."

Deila admitted nervous tension as he revealed the importance of the match to Celtic.

"It is like a final," he said. "If we get through, we have reached one of our goals this season.

"If you don't have nerves in games like this, you have to do something else. It is very good to have a little bit nerves, but no fear."

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