"The one that got away"; Neil Warnock recalls failed attempt to sign former Celtic hero

By Lewis Laird

June 15, 2022

Former English Premier League boss Neil Warnock has opened up on his failed attempt to bring ex-Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk to Crystal Palace in 2014.

The Dutch defender kick-started his career with the Hoops, joining under former boss Neil Lennon from Groningen.

Van Dijk made serious progress as a player at Parkhead and quickly became an asset many Premier League sides were interested in bringing to the club.

Photo by Daniel Chesterton/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

During his two-year stay, the central defender picked up three trophies in total, which were the first of his now glittering career.

Since then, the defender has gone on to lift the English Premier League and Champions League with Liverpool, where he has become arguably the best defender in the world.

Of course, before moving to Liverpool, he had a spell with Southampton, who were the first to react to Van Dijk’s impressive displays at Celtic.

However, things could have been very different for the 30-year-old had a few close calls come to fruition.

One of those was a potential move to Crystal Palace in 2014, the recently retired Neil Warnock has recently revealed.

Speaking in an interview with the Mirror, Warnock stated that the Celtic defender was offered to him for just £5 million. However, the chief scout at Selhurst Park convinced him to turn down the chance due to a supposed deficiency in Van Dijk’s game at the time.

He said: “The one that got away from me was Virgil van Dijk. I got offered him when I was at Crystal Palace for £5 million.

“But my chief scout said he was too slow, and he ended up at Southampton instead! It’s a shame because anything he may lack in pace, he makes up for 10-fold in his ability to read the game.”

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Celtic continue to benefit from Van Dijk deal

After missing out on the Dutchman for such a cheap price, you would imagine that many English sides have learned their lesson when it comes to disregarding talented players in Scotland.

In recent years, we have seen more making the move south of the border, with the likes of Kieran Tierney heading to Arsenal and Odsonne Edouard joining Palace last summer.

Outside of Celtic, we are starting to see clubs such as Liverpool take notice of Scottish talents, too, with Aberdeen full-back Calvin Ramsey reportedly close to a move.

So, these sides are clearly taking notice and attempting to learn from the missed opportunity of Van Dijk, which could help Celtic with future sales further down the line.

For now, though, I am sure Ange Postecoglou is delighted that not many sides appear to be keeping an eye on his current crop of players, who will be looking to continue their success going into next season.

In other news, Celtic goalkeeper Joe Hart’s latest classy gesture.