"I kept getting excuses"; Former Celtic scout on why £75m colossus didn't leave Parkhead sooner

By Euan Davidson

November 16, 2021

Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk may be a Ballon D’Or runner-up these days [LFC], but plenty of Premier League clubs made excuses not to sign the Dutchman during 2 years at Celtic, according to former scout David Moss.

The 42-cap Dutch centre-back is a gold standard for his position now. However, clubs from more established leagues needed convincing about his abilities. That is before Southampton, who also signed Stuart Armstrong, Fraser Forster and Victor Wanyama from Celtic, eventually stepped in.

Speaking to Goal, Moss shared that “bigger” clubs weren’t convinced by van Dijk’s displays in Scotland. Or, even in Champions League games with Celtic. That’s despite van Dijk showing an immense range of abilities at both ends of the pitch.

Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Now a £75m man [BBC], van Dijk has won a Premier League and Champions League in Merseyside. However, Moss says clubs had doubts about him.

Moss said [Goal]:

“When he was at Celtic, the number of Premier League clubs that used to phone me and ask about Van Dijk was huge. I always said the same things to everyone: “He is like a grown man playing in a children’s playground – he stands out like a sore thumb. Just sign him immediately, don’t think about it.”

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“He was fast, won all his headers, you couldn’t beat him one-v-one, he could pass 60 yards on both feet and he scored free-kicks. Incredibly, I kept getting excuses.

“They were often about his performances in the Champions League or saying doing it in the Scottish league didn’t mean a lot, and people wouldn’t listen.

“Everyone inside Celtic had total belief in him, but a lot of people in football didn’t. For me, he didn’t need the Southampton step, he was ready for a big six move straight from Celtic. They just weren’t brave enough to bring him in.”

Suffice it to say, Virgil van Dijk has done alright since leaving Celtic

You don’t finish top 3 in Ballon D’Or voting for no reason. From the moment Virgil van Dijk got settled at Celtic, he immediately stood out. He was always going to have a big future.

A centre-back who’s strong in the tackle, reads the game excellently, and seldom gets caught out is valuable in itself.

Then you add his ability on the ball, his passing, his ability to score stunning free kicks and start attacks? It’s no wonder he’s now so valuable.

It wasn’t always thus. Perhaps, there’ll be Liverpool fans who regret the Reds’ reticence to sign him earlier. From a Celtic perspective, we really should’ve got much more for him in a just transfer market.

Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

We didn’t though. There was a sense of inevitability once he got his “big” move from Southampton. After all, there’d been a pipeline of players moving from the south coast to Merseyside.

Of course he was going to do well in England; he’d have done well anywhere.

It seems like a lifetime ago he was at Celtic, mind. But you have to say – what a signing. To see his potential at Groningen was an absolute master-stroke.

Read more: Report: Former Premier League trainee on Celtic radar; 20 goal contributions this season