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Crystal Palace turned down Virgil van Dijk in 2014 after scouting him

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The biggest compliment you can pay Virgil van Dijk right now is that absolutely nobody is talking about his £75 million transfer fee.

When the Dutchman arrived at Liverpool in January, eyebrows were raised at the extortionate fee.

But Van Dijk has transformed Liverpool’s defence, playing a big role in the club making their best start to a season defensively in their history.

In fact, he’s been so good that BT Sport pundit Chris Sutton made an astonishing claim last week.

“Virgil van Dijk is the best player in the world,” Sutton suggested.

“Educated in Scotland…he’s tearing it up isn’t he? It’s what Liverpool needed – a bit of stability.”

While Sutton’s claim may have been light-hearted, there’s no doubt that Van Dijk is one of the best defenders in world football right now.

FBL-EUR-C1-LIVERPOOL-BELGRADE

And Liverpool’s decision to splash £75 million on him looks like a no-brainer.

However, not everyone has always been convinced by him.

Four years ago, Crystal Palace were linked with a move for the then-Celtic defender.

Palace were on the verge of a £6 million move for Van Dijk until they identified a weakness.

Celtic v Malmo FF - UEFA Champions League: Qualifying Round Play Off First Leg

That’s according to the manager at the time - Neil Warnock.

"Van Dijk - I'm delighted he's playing like he is," said Warnock.

"We could have bought him at Palace for £6million but my chief scout told me he was too slow. I think he's still in a job as well!"

Madness.

Either Van Dijk has got significantly quicker in four years or the scout is blind.

Van Dijk’s pace is one of his biggest assets - as seen during the 1-1 draw with Chelsea last month.

Warnock will come up against Van Dijk on Saturday as he takes his Cardiff side to face Liverpool on Merseyside.

And he’s very realistic about his side’s chances of victory.

"It is virtually impossible for any team in the current game," he said.

"Their front three is probably the best front three in the world. But we're playing quite well - I think we can cause them problems. You have to go there and believe you can.”

Topics:
Neil Warnock
Football
Virgil van Dijk
Celtic FC
Cardiff City
Crystal Palace
Southampton
Liverpool

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