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Neil Lennon explains how Liverpool could have signed Virgil van Dijk for much cheaper in 2013

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Who is Liverpool’s most important player?

While Mohamed Salah might be the most common answer, there will also be plenty of votes for Virgil van Dijk.

The Dutchman arrived in January for £75 million and has significantly improved a previously leaky Liverpool defence.

It’s led to the fans asking the question: ‘What would have happened if Liverpool had signed Van Dijk at the start of the season?’

Well, they’d probably still be behind the irresistible Manchester City but there’s no doubt they would have been much closer to Pep Guardiola’s side.

It wasn’t for a lack of trying, though.

Liverpool were on the verge of signing Van Dijk last summer before Southampton reported them for their illegal approach.

Klopp could have easily have gone for an alternative. After all, Liverpool desperately needed a new centre-back ahead of the start of the season.

But the fact that he waited six months shows just how much Klopp wanted him and only him.

FBL-ENG-FACUP-LIVERPOOL-EVERTON

It cost them £75 million in the end but nobody is questioning that transfer fee right now.

But they could have got him for a lot cheaper if they had signed him straight from Celtic.

Van Dijk was at Celtic for two seasons before he made the £12 million move to Southampton in 2015.

LENNON: IT'S 'EMBARRASSING' FOR LIVERPOOL 

And then Celtic boss Neil Lennon has revealed it was “embarrassing” that Liverpool - and other clubs - didn’t take the chance on Van Dijk when they had the chance of a bargain.

“I thought he would have been snapped up from Celtic well before he was,” said Lennon. “The fact that he played in Scotland maybe slowed the process down a little bit. A lot of scouts and managers should be hanging their heads.

“It’s embarrassing. I got calls from big clubs about Van Dijk on a number of occasions. I just could not believe what they were waiting for.

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“Southampton did the right thing. They came in and did the business and it was an absolute no-brainer.

“I’m telling you. Big club scouts rang me and I said ‘what are you thinking about?’ ‘What are you waiting for?’ Some of the answers I got back were absolutely baffling.

“Maybe their perception of the Scottish game has cost them. It has cost Liverpool a lot of money but, in the end, it’s probably money well spent. He has made Liverpool better. I think he has been the missing link really.

FBL-EUR-C1-AS ROMA-LIVERPOOL

“But, they could have had him for £10m-£12m two or three years ago if they had done their jobs properly.”

So, Liverpool could have easily have signed Van Dijk for as little as £12 million just three years ago - and they must be wishing they did.

It would have saved them more than £60 million and they couldn’t have done with him over the past couple of years.

However, Liverpool definitely made the right decision in snapping up Van Dijk in January and that decision could help them win the Champions League on Saturday.

They certainly won’t be worrying about the fact they missed the chance to snap up a bargain three years ago if they beat Real Madrid on Saturday…

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Topics:
Neil Lennon
Football
Virgil van Dijk
Celtic FC
Jurgen Klopp
Premier League
Liverpool

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