According to former Celtic manager Ronny Deila, Manchester City turned down the chance to sign Virgil van Dijk before he made the switch to Southampton.
The Netherlands international spent just over two years in Scotland, making 115 appearances for the Bhoys during that time. However, he departed to the Premier League in 2015 for £13m, and three years later he would be on the move again, joining Liverpool to become their record signing at £75m.
Deila, though, said that City had the chance to sign him before he moved to the south coast. Talking to Si Ferry’s Open Goal, he explained:
“Did I get in touch with City? Yes. I said you have to take him. They said, ‘okay, tell me the best European game he has played and we will watch it’.
“I couldn’t tell them what game that was because he hadn’t had any real good European games. He was really dominant in Scotland but he got sent off against Inter away.
“That was a big test. I think if he had played fantastically in that game, he would have been bought.
“I think the big clubs think Scottish football is too low level and they don’t want to take a chance on a player for that kind of money. In Europe, then you can show how good you are. I think van Dijk was good, but he didn’t have that one really, really good game in Europe.”
Since making the switch to Anfield, van Dijk has arguably changed the club’s fortunes. During his time at the club, they have reached the Champions League final in successive seasons, whilst they have lost just twice in their last 67 Premier League matches.
Would Liverpool be European champions without van Dijk?
The 28-year-old himself has risen to the very top of the game – he finished second in last year’s Ballon d’Or rankings, for example. Whilst Jurgen Klopp is a wonderful manager and has stunning talents such as Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah at his disposal, the absence of van Dijk would take an awful lot from the Reds’ side. They can count their lucky stars that the Citizens lacked the foresight to take him to the Etihad Stadium.
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