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Neil Warnock reveals he had chance to sign Virgil van Dijk for just £3m from Celtic but Crystal Palace blocked the move

Written by on May 2, 2024

In a recent interview on the “No Tippy Tappy Football” podcast by William Hill and Footy Accumulators, former Crystal Palace manager Neil Warnock unveiled a startling detail that could have reshaped the club’s history.

The legendary English manager Warnock disclosed that during his tenure, the Eagles were on the brink of securing the services of Virgil van Dijk from Celtic for a mere £3 million, a fraction of his current astronomical value.

“Van Dijk was at Celtic and I nearly signed him to Crystal Palace for £3 million,” recounted Warnock. However, the club’s heavy reliance on statistical analysis ultimately led them to pass on this golden opportunity.

The statistical analysis department at Palace deemed Van Dijk not fast enough to thrive in the demanding environment of the Premier League; a decision that would later haunt the club as Van Dijk’s career has since soared to unprecedented heights winning the Premier League and Champions League with Liverpool.

Liverpool’s Dutch defender #04 Virgil van Dijk (C) celebrates scoring the team’s fourth goal with Liverpool’s Northern Irish defender #84 Conor Bradley (L) and Liverpool’s Hungarian midfielder #08 Dominik Szoboszlai during the English FA Cup fourth round football match between Liverpool and Norwich City at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on January 28, 2024. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

Crystal Palace rejected the chance to sign Virgil van Dijk from Celtic

Neil Warnock strongly contested this decision, asserting, “I told them why he doesn’t look quick, he reads the game that well that he doesn’t have to break a sweat!” His astute observation of Van Dijk’s exceptional footballing intelligence was subsequently proven correctly.

Southampton would swoop in and secure Van Dijk’s signature from Celtic for a modest fee ranging between £4 to £5 million. It was a move that proved to be a masterstroke for the Saints, as Van Dijk quickly established himself as one of the most dominant defenders in the Premier League.

The culmination of Van Dijk’s exceptional performances at Southampton led to Liverpool breaking the bank to acquire his services for an eye-watering £75 million, setting a world-record fee for a defender. Since joining the Reds, Van Dijk has been instrumental in their success under Jurgen Klopp.

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