Former Premier League manager reveals why he turned down £6m Virgil van Dijk deal

Virgil van Dijk is the captain of Liverpool and the best defender of his generation, but his career path to the top might've been a little different had one ex-Premier League boss had his way.

Veteran manager Neil Warnock once claimed to have come close to moving for the Netherlands international back before he first moved to the Premier League with Southampton.

Speaking to talkSPORT, Warnock revealed that Van Dijk was on his shortlist when looking for players to boost his squad at Palace ahead of the 2014/15 season.

“When I was at Palace, it was difficult to sign players,” Warnock said back in 2017.

“I went after the centre-half at Celtic, Van Dijk, and they wanted £6m. I said ‘we have got to buy him, don’t we?’

“The chief scout went to watch him and said ‘he is not very quick, it’s Scottish football’. That was before Southampton came in for him.”

It's hard to gauge how much truth there is in Warnock's claims. The only centre back Palace did sign that summer was Brede Hangeland (not renowned for his pace) on a free from Fulham – and that deal happened before Warnock's arrival on 27 August.

The former Sheffield United and QPR manager was then sacked before the January transfer window, with the Eagles stuck in the relegation zone.

Van Dijk, meanwhile, stayed at Celtic to win the 2014/15 Scottish Premiership before moving to Southampton the following summer for a reported £13m.

He spent two-and-a-half years at the Saints before his £75m move to Liverpool and, of course, the rest is history.

The 2019 UEFA Player of the Year ended 2023 not only top of the Premier League table with the Reds, but also as the defender with the highest aerial duels win rate (77.1%) in Europe's 'big five' leagues.

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