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Signings hinge on progress in Champions League: Deila

RONNY DEILA, the Celtic manager, concedes his rebuilding plans are likely to hinge on steering the club safely towards the group stage of the Champions League.

The 38-year-old Norwegian has a detailed understanding of where the SPFL champions now find themselves in European football's pecking order and appears to accept that he may have to wait until bigger clubs have made their major moves in the market before feeding off the scraps.

The final round of qualifying matches will conclude in the last week of the transfer window and Deila knows that, with Celtic operating on a relatively tight budget, being able to dangle involvement in the Champions League in front of sought-after talent could make a considerable difference to the success of his recruitment programme.

"Of course, qualifying for the Champions League is very important when it comes to attracting players," said Deila, whose side enter tonight's second qualifying round return leg with KR Reykjavik at Murrayfield leading 1-0. "That's a huge thing and is a big target for us. You know what kind of money there is. It is big in Scottish terms, but it doesn't compete with the biggest clubs in Europe.

"We are looking for quality and that's very hard just now, when a lot of the big clubs in the rest of the world haven't even started pre-season. You have to beat clubs like Manchester City, who can just buy the ones they want when they want. The biggest get their food first and the rest of us come after. That's the challenge. We are looking for quality and that is very hard right now. The longer the window goes, the bigger the opportunities get. There is more pressure on every club and they have to take decisions. Celtic is also a club who buys not so very expensive [players], but wants the player to progress and be sold for more money. That is difficult in the short term as well."

With the club being limited in terms of the money available for transfer fees and wages, the concept of a loan deal for a high-level player possibly out of favour at a bigger team might seem appealing.

Deila, who has been linked in Spain with a temporary move for the Villarreal winger Javier Aquino, is not sold on the idea.

"Everything is an opportunity, but a loan is not ideal because you don't want to develop other teams' talent and not get any money for it," he said. "The important thing is that is has to be someone to make the team much better, so everybody grows. It could be an older player there is no value in, but they could come in and use their experience and their skills. That's another opportunity."

Fraser Forster and Virgil van Dijk have been monitored by teams in England and on the continent for some time. Should a suitable bid be tabled, Deila is clear on the need to reinvest a sizeable sum of any fee received, saying: "If we sold any of our bigger players, I would expect some of the money to be made available to me. That's the way the club has been. If players go out, we get money to do something else."

Deila, with goalkeeper Craig Gordon his only signing to date, is imprecise on the number he wishes to recruit, speaking yesterday of hoping for "one, two or three more players".

However, he is clearly not about to embark upon any sort of dressing-room cull. Those who play against Reykjavik tonight are likely to have a significant part to play during the course of the campaign.

"The main players are the ones we have at the moment," he said. "Nothing revolutionary is going to happen here. I'm confident the current squad can get us to the group stage. A lot of them have been there and done it before, but we have lost Georgios Samaras, and Scott Brown and James Forrest are out for these big games. Other players now have to take steps to get us into the Champions League."

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