John Collins has revealed that Liverpool could have signed Virgil van Dijk for just £12million before he completed a move to Southampton.
While van Dijk might have suffered an injury to his ribs, which Jürgen Klopp has revealed isn’t too serious, the Dutchman came in for more praise after playing well at Anfield on Saturday afternoon.
On van Dijk’s rib injury, Klopp said: “He already had a bruise in the ribs before the PSG game, which is very uncomfortable and today he got another hit there.
“It’s not cool but should not be too serious. It should be absolutely OK, hopefully. I didn’t hear anything different.”
John Collins – who was assistant manager at Celtic when van Dijk emerged as one of the most promising defenders in Europe – has revealed the mistake Liverpool made with the Dutchman.
“Arsenal’s chief scout thought he was a little too nonchalant,” said Collins. “Maybe that was part of his game, but he ticked so many other boxes – pace, power, balance, distribution, good in the air – and is a quality player.
“Gary Mac was with Brendan at Liverpool and I phoned him and said ‘are you going to come and take Virgil?’. Gary said he had mentioned him to Brendan, but Brendan had said he wasn’t sure if he was better than they already had.
“The price? It was £12million at the time. Every team in England watched him regularly, but they all had their doubts. The worry was he was showing all the qualities against Scottish players but could he do it against English clubs?
“But as soon as I saw him, you could tell he was well balanced, strong football player with composure. That costs money.
“Southampton were smart. They knew they were getting a cracking deal. I was surprised he went, I was really shocked none of the big boys came in for him.”