CELTIC could beat off stiff competition from across Europe to land Birger Meling before the transfer window closes next month due to the high regard the Scottish champions are held in throughout Norwegian football, it was last night claimed.

Meling, who is set to start in defence for Rosenborg in the first leg of their Champions League play-off against Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia this evening, has attracted interest from clubs in the top leagues on the continent this summer.

However, the Parkhead club, who are looking to increase their options at left back following the departure of both Emilio Izaguirre and Kieran Tierney in the last few months, are in a strong position to secure the services of the 24-year-old.

Vidar Riseth, inset, the former Norway utility player who spent two seasons at Celtic between 1998 and 2000, is surprised but delighted that his old club are in the running to sign the man who has been one of the outstanding performers in his homeland for the past two years.

Riseth, who also spent spells in the Austrian and German top flights with LASK Linz and 1860 Munich respectively during his career, believes that his compatriot is talented enough to play in the Premier League or the Bundesliga in the future.

“What can I say, he is a very good player,” he said. “He is a really offensive player, lightning quick. He overlaps all the time on the left wing and is good at crossing. He can use both his left and his right foot equally well. He is really good defensively as well. His positional play is excellent.

“He has been Rosenborg’s best player in the last two seasons. It isn’t just Celtic who are interested in Meling, many clubs are keeping an eye on him. He could end up at a top English or German club in future. To be honest, I am surprised that Celtic have a chance to sign him.”

Riseth, though, feels the success of his fellow Norwegian internationalists Kristoffer Ajer and Stefan Johansen at Celtic as well as Swedish defender Mikael Lustig, who was signed from Rosenborg, in recent years have shown Meling that he can further his career at Parkhead.

He also revealed that the full-back, who MLS outfit Los Angeles FC reportedly had an offer turned down for last week, is one of many in his country who has been impressed by the Glasgow club during European games against them in the past two seasons.

The former Stabaek man squared up to them no fewer than four times in the 2018/19 campaign. He played them twice in Champions League qualifying and then twice in the Europa League group stages. He also played them twice in Champions League qualifying the season before.

“Rosenborg have surprised everybody in the Champions League this season because they haven’t started the domestic season well and don’t have a chance to win the league any more,” said Riseth .

“I think Celtic would be a step up for him – they are a bigger club and they get bigger crowds and they have done ar better than Rosenborg in Europe in recent seasons.

“Norwegian people like Celtic. Ajer is obviously there now and is doing well. Johansen has been there previously. They know Lustig did well there too. But Rosenborg have played against them many times recently and everybody has talked about the atmosphere there is at the games. They just like the club for some reason.

“That is why Celtic have the best chance to beat the other clubs who are interested in signing Meling – because Norwegian football players know them and like them.”

Riseth, who is currently training twice a day in preparation for an appearance in Norwegian television’s equivalent of Superstars, reckons that Meling, who has won 10 caps for his country in the last two years, would increase his chances of featuring for his national team if he joins Celtic.

Lions manager Lars Lagerback has preferred players who ply their trade overseas and Haitam Aleesami of French club Amiens has usually been given the nod ahead of him at left back in Euro 2020 qualifying campaign to date. His last appearance at international level came in a Nations League match against Cyprus away last November.

“It isn’t easy to get into the national team because we have good players in Meling’s position,” said Riseth. “But I think Birger will play a lot of games for his country in the future

“In big leagues you play against better teams every other week. That is maybe the problem with Birger playing in Norway. The Tippeligaen is maybe not the strongest.

“That is why Lagerback is using players who are based in other countries. If he goes to Celtic I think he will play more for the national team as well.”

Neil Lennon signed Boli Bolingoli from Rapid Vienna for £3.5 million last month and has started him at left back in eight of the nine competitive fixtures that Celtic have played during the 2019/20 campaign.

However, he left Bolingoli out of the second leg of the Champions League third qualifying round tie against CFR Cluj last week following his error-strewn display in the first match in Romania six days earlier.

Riseth is confident that Meling has both the ability and maturity to establish himself as a first team regular is he completes his move to Scotland before the transfer window closes at midnight on Monday week.

“There are obviously very good players in the Celtic squad,” he said. “But with Birger’s quality I think he will go straight into the team. He is so offensive, has such quick feet, and that is the way that Celtic like to play.

“There will be stiff competition for a start for sure. But that will be good because then other players in his position will have to step up as well.

“If they buy him I think he will become their first choice left back. He’s strong mentally and will be able to cope with the crowds and the atmosphere.”