Former Celtic striker Pierre van Hooijdonk has hit out at England’s top clubs for failing to recognise the talent available in Scotland.
Liverpool currently have Virgil van Dijk and Andrew Robertson starring for them on a weekly basis, but only after plying their trade with other Premier League clubs beforehand. Van Dijk in particular cost Liverpool a whopping £75million too after he shot his value up at Southampton (The Guardian).
Laughably, that deal was done only 18 months after he signed for the Saints from Celtic for a nominal £13m (BBC). It’s an incredible example of how the top guns in England have continuously snubbed Celtic and Scottish football’s top talent.
And van Hooijdonk, who played for the Hoops between 1995 and 1997, hit out at the Premier League’s big-hitters for paying ridiculous fees instead of plucking players directly from Scotland.
As quoted by the Daily Record, van Hooijdonk said: “Clubs are spending millions on scouts and recruitment but they still underestimate the spirit of the Scottish league.
“Look at Virgil Van Dijk and Andy Robertson. Why did Liverpool not make their move when they were at Celtic and Dundee United? Southampton and Hull had to come in first. Then all of a sudden they were Premier League calibre.
“They are both playing for the champions of England now and I see it as a kind of embarrassment for the recruitment at the top teams in the Premier League.”
Are we now seeing a change in behaviour from England’s top teams?
van Hooijdonk makes a terrific point here, but you also can’t ignore how things have changed over the last 12 months or so.
Arsenal made several offers for Kieran Tierney last summer in a desperate bid to take him to the Emirates. Eventually, Celtic allowed him to depart for £25m (BBC), and the Gunners have been seeing the benefits of it ever since.
Of course, we don’t want to go selling all of our best assets to England anytime soon. But it’s still a good acknowledgment of Celtic’s talent to see the best clubs in the Premier League taking an interest.
England’s top guns have allowed the likes of Moussa Dembele, van Dijk, Robertson, and Victor Wanyama to head elsewhere when they were clearly ready to be tested at the elite level.
It remains to be seen if the Premier League giants learn from their errors. Considering the money bubble they all live in however, you shouldn’t really count on it.