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USMNT's McKenzie keen to follow Van Dijk path with January Celtic move

09:42 GMT 17/12/2020
Mark McKenzie, Virgil van Dijk
The Dutch centre-back is widely regarded as one of the best, having honed his skills in Glasgow before making the switch to the Premier League

Philadelphia Union defender Mark McKenzie has admitted that he is open to a January move to Scottish champions Celtic as the USMNT international looks to follow in the footsteps of Virgil van Dijk and compete at the highest level in Europe.

Neil Lennon's outfit had been in talks with the Union over a summer swoop for the 21-year-old but eventually settled on Brighton's Shane Duffy on loan for a fee of around £2 million.

Reports claim the Hoops are set to rekindle their interest in January, however, and the Bronx-born centre-back feels that relocating to Glasgow could be a good fit as he targets a career at the very top of the game.

Asked if a move could be on the cards next month, McKenzie told Sky Sports News: “Yeah, ultimately it's about the situation being right for all parties.

“As the player you are probably the most important piece in the puzzle, but it's about making sure it's right for the club I'm at now but also the club I could potentially be going to.

“I want to be playing regular and consistent minutes - at least fighting for my spot and then trying to keep that spot. That's the most important thing. It's something I've obviously talked to my agents about and talked to the club and staff about and make sure it's right for everyone.

"I've done my fair share of research [on Celtic and the Scottish Premiership] and I've always loved football so I've known about Celtic for a while. You hear about Celtic and the path of Virgil van Dijk - going from there to the Prem.”

It has been claimed that Premier League and Bundesliga sides have registered an interest in McKenzie, but the player himself is wary of biting off more than he can chew so early in his career.

“I think you have to understand where you're at as a footballer and think 'what is the best option for me? Would it be to go to a top three or four league? What does the club dynamic look like?

“Are there veterans in my position? Are there high-profile individuals in my position? Am I ready to compete in this league? Where are my weaknesses? Do I need more time to develop? Do my strengths align with this league?'

“Ultimately Europe is where every footballer understands is the highest level. I'm not bashing any leagues but when you wake up as a kid on a Saturday and you turn on the Prem. Right after that, there might be a Bundesliga game or El Clasico. 

“Europe is where you want to be and I find myself in that position also. It's out there - my goal is to play in the Champions League, play against the best players in the world, win trophies. That's my goal and those are my personal ambitions.”