Liverpool had the chance to sign Dutch central defender Virgil van Dijk three years before his eventual move to Merseyside according to his former coach.

Both Arsenal and Liverpool failed to take the opportunity to sign Virgil van Dijk three years before his £75m move to the Reds according to his former Celtic coach John Collins.

Could Liverpool have got Van Dijk cheaper? Five things to know…

  1. Virgil van Dijk came through at Dutch side Groningen
  2. He moved to Britain to play for Celtic where he excelled
  3. His coach at Celtic encouraged Liverpool to buy the defender
  4. He instead moved to Southampton for £13m
  5. Liverpool paid a record fee of £75m for Van Dijk in January 2018

Virgil van Dijk has been one of the key components in Liverpool’s unbeaten start to the season. The defender has been instrumental, making Liverpool one of the best defensive outfits in Europe.

They have only conceded seven goals in the Premier League this season and have already kept 12 clean-sheets, more than any side in the top four tiers of English football.

However, it has become clear that Brendan Rogers missed an opportunity to signed Van Dijk three years ago at a price that would have been a snip compared to the £75m they eventually paid.

According to John Collins, who worked with the Dutch defender for a year at Celtic, Liverpool missed out because Rodgers didn’t think Van Dijk was better than the defenders the Reds had at the time.

“Gary McAllister was the assistant to Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool and I told him I hope you’re going to come and take Virgil,” Collins reportedly told Bein Sports as reported by the Liverpool Echo. “But Brendan didn’t fancy him and didn’t think he was better than what he already had.”

Liverpool wasn’t the only side to miss out on the big defender. Collins also talked about how Arsenal thought the Dutchman was ‘too nonchalant’ to make it at the Emirates.

“Arsenal’s chief scout [Steve Rowley] thought he was too nonchalant.

“Maybe that was part of his game but he ticks so many of the other boxes.

“He’s got pace, power, balance, distribution and he’s good in the air.

“He can be a bit nonchalant but he is a quality player.

“He would’ve cost around £12m – every team watched him regularly but the worry was he was showing it against Scottish players but you could tell he was strong, powerful and a well-balanced player.”

How important is Van Dijk to Liverpool?

Liverpool have started the season in impressive fashion conceding just seven goals in their opening 19 Premier League games; a stark contrast to last season.

The start of the 2017-18 season makes uncomfortable reading for Liverpool fans but also acts as a reminder of just how far they have come in 12 months.

During the opening 19 games of last season, the Reds lost twice, drew eight and conceded 23 goals.

Virgil van Dijk didn’t sign for the Merseyside club until January but has been ever-present this season along with new ‘keeper Alisson who are both clearly making a huge difference to a once leaky backline.

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