Liverpool declined the opportunity to sign Virgil Van Dijk three years ago for the measly sum of £12m – with then manager Brendan Rodgers not convinced by the Dutchman.
Speaking to beIN sports, former Scotland international and Celtic’s assistant manager at the time John Collins provided the insight on Van Dijk.
“Garry Mac was Brendan’s assistant and he mentioned him [Van Dijk] to Brendan but he said he wasn’t sure he was better than what they already had.”
In our defensive ranks were Dejan Lovren, Mamadou Sakho, Kolo Toure and Martin Skrtel – with the latter being the best out of the bunch given Lovren’s shaky form having recently joined the club. This is simply staggering, as the club shelled out the world record fee for a defender on Van Dijk this year, showing not only the growth of the player but also the change in perspective from Rodgers to Klopp.
Now a centre-back amongst Europe’s elite, it’s a surprise that nobody was willing to take a chance at the Dutchman especially at such a cut price.
“He was really shocked none of the big boys came in for him,”
“He could have made any other teams in Europe better and I was laughed at for saying that back then”
Amongst the teams interested were Arsenal, however Steve Rowley, chief scout in 2015, dismissed Van Dijk for being too “nonchalant”. Collins said:
“He ticks so many other boxes; pace, power, balance, distribution, good in the air. Arsenal’s chief scout thought he was a little too nonchalant and maybe that was part of his game at the time.”
It’s an all too familiar story of Arsenal missing out on a top quality player as they didn’t fancy him – the list would probably go from Anfield to the Emirates! Ultimately, it was Southampton that took the chance on the centre-back, paying £13m back in 2015; making a tidy profit of £63m.
Collins heralded Van Dijk’s footballing brain and ability to carry the ball, saying: “If you watch him closely he doesn’t tackle, he intercepts. He steps in front, it doesn’t matter where you are playing that’s an intelligence to read the game. When he carries the ball you see he carries it like a central midfield player.”
— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS) September 22, 2018