I wanted Van Dijk but Liverpool said no - Rodgers

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The Reds have been heavily linked to the defender, who could cost around £50 million, but they have already passed up on the chance to sign him

Brendan Rodgers says he raised Virgil van Dijk as a potential target for Liverpool, only to be told the time was not right.

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The Netherlands international impressed in the Eredivisie at Groningen, emerging as one of the best defenders in the Dutch top flight before joining Celtic at 22.

Van Dijk's performances in Scotland began to attract interest from the Premier League, with Southampton eventually snapping him up.

Virgil van Dijk Inter Southampton Europa League

Virgil van Dijk, Netherlands

After one solid season at Southampton, Van Dijk began to be linked to Manchester United and Liverpool and looks set to move on from St Mary's soon.

The Saints will demand a big fee for a 25-year-old, who is contracted to the club until 2022, with some reports stating they could ask for upwards of £50 million for him, but Liverpool could have got him for a cheaper price had they listened to Rodgers during his time there.

“When I was at Liverpool I asked about Van Dijk when he was at Groningen and then at Celtic," he said. "But I was told he wouldn’t be for us at the time.

"Van Dijk could have jumped from Celtic to a Liverpool. Some clubs will want to see the players tested at certain arenas first.

“But if there is enough belief in the player then that counts. The key for scouting is trying to predict when the player is peaking.

“You could see with Van Dijk that he was quick, strong, good on the ball and decent in the air.

“So what more do you need to see? You could see him playing international football and, okay, clubs may want to see him in Champions League.

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“Wanyama left and then made the jump but he was a good player at Celtic, showing up well in the Champions League.

“There is maybe an issue with scouts."

Van Dijk has played 30 games for Southampton in all competitions this term, pitching in with four goals.