Arsenal working on deal to sign Virgil van Dijk

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Arsenal are ready to beat Manchester United in the race to sign Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk, after deciding that the need for cover at centre-back is so great that they must be prepared to get the chequebook out in January.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has been widely criticised for not replacing club captain Thomas Vermaelen in the summer, an oversight which has left the club absolutely threadbare at times this season.

Man United have also suffered terribly with injuries to key defenders since Louis van Gaal took charge and have considered Van Dijk as a solution to that problem, but it seems Arsenal are now at the front of the queue to make a valuable addition when the transfer window opens.

Wenger thinks Van Dijk is ready for the step up

Van Dijk looks ready to follow a well-worn line from Celtic to the Premier League, despite Hoops boss Ronny Delia insisting that he remains determined to keep the Dutch international in Glasgow for the long-term.

The Daily Star report that Arsenal are serious about adding Van Dijk to their squad the moment transfer silly season starts again and are already working on their first January deal, ahead of alternative options such as Winston Reid or Ron Vlaar.

£10 million bid could seal the deal

The 23-year-old is very highly thought of at Celtic and coped with the demands of Champions League football strongly last season, something that most likely first attracted Wenger to the player.

Van Dijk will have to prove very quickly that he's capable of delivering consistently in the Premier League if he does seal a £10 million move to the Emirates though, primarily because Laurent Koscielny continues to nurse multiple injury problems.

Koscielny has tendinitis in both Achilles tendons and will continues to nurse that niggling complaint that's not going away for most of the season, which has effectively forced Wenger into the transfer market.

Van Dijk is the man Wenger believes can come in and adapt quickly to form a new centre-back partnership alongside Per Mertesacker, which means a player United have monitored for some time is on the brink of signing for a direct rival for a coveted spot in the top four.

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