Player Focus: Transfer Rumour Round-Up - Day 16
Virgil van Dijk
With speculation increasing linking Celtic's Dutch international Virgil van Dijk with a move south of the border, the fact that Arsenal and United are among those touted with an interest is no real surprise. Both teams are actively looking to bolster their defensive options and the 23-year-old's form in the SPL since a move from Groningen in the summer of 2013 has drawn admiring glances.
The Scottish champions would be loathed to losing such an impressive talent but could expect to make a healthy profit on the modest fee they paid ahead of last season. Crucially for those keeping a watchful eye over the centre-back's progress, Van Dijk has managed to carry his form from a league famously lacking in strength in depth into the Europa League this season, having had a taste for Champions League action in 2013/14.
Helping Celtic to negotiate their way to the knockout stages, where a mouth-watering tie against Inter awaits, Van Dijk secured an impressive rating of 7.42 from WhoScored.com in his 6 group appearances. With 50 clearances in that time only 4 players produced more in the Europa League group stages, with the imposing Dutchman winning 3.5 aerial duels per game but also showing an impressive reading of the game to average 3.3 interceptions per outing.
In a month in which his name has been bandied about over the various transfer gossip columns Danny Ings provided a timely reminder of what he is capable with and superbly taken winner against QPR last weekend. The 22-year-old may have only scored 6 goals in 18 league appearances this season but with a further 3 assists he has proven to be the handful that many expected after a fantastic season in the Championship last year.
It's little surprise that Ings' name appears to be on a number of wish lists given that his current deal at Turf Moor expires in the summer, despite Sean Dyche stating that the club won't be entertaining any offers this month. The latest club to have been linked with the England under-21 international are Real Sociedad, with David Moyes hoping to put his stamp on the side following his arrival in November.
The loss of Antoine Griezmann in the summer certainly diminished La Real's goal threat and Moyes' men have scored just 1.06 goals per game this season compared to 1.63 last. It's no shock that the Scot is looking to add firepower and having fired off 55 shots this season - only 10 Premier League players have attempted more - he is the sort of livewire striker that could help to bridge that goal gap from the campaign gone by.
Another front man that has been linked with a whole host of different clubs this month is Blackburn's Rudy Gestede, perhaps becoming more in-demand than strike partner Jordan Rhodes in the process. The Frenchman has been a revelation for Rovers having failed to make the grade at Cardiff and currently ranks third in WhoScored.com's Championship player ratings with a score of 7.58.
The latest side to have been linked with a move for the 26-year-old target man are Hull, whose need for a striker due to a host of injuries is well documented. With the Tigers preferring to secure a temporary solution on loan rather than a permanent one it would be a surprise to see Gestede to turn up at the KC Stadium anytime soon but the Blackburn man has been has been mentioned as a target for the likes of Palace and West Brom, who are both under new management.
He's certainly a player that would suit any side that look to get balls into the box as early as possible, developing WhoScored strengths of 'finishing', 'aerial duels' and 'headed attempts' having notched a goal every other game in the league for Rovers (25 in 50). With 16 of said 25 strikes coming with his head - 3 more than any other Championship player since the start of last season - Gestede's threat is abundantly clear but no easier to defend against because of that.
First published at http://www.whoscored.com/Articles/W30tR6bsg02Sv_Mxes8qFA