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‘I could have taken Van Dijk to Hull’ - Bruce reveals failed pursuit of Liverpool star

12:57 AM WAT 14/09/2019
Virgil van Dijk Liverpool 2019-20
The Newcastle manager admitted he wanted to sign the Netherlands captain while he coached Hull City, but wasn't able to seal a deal

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce has revealed he tried but failed to sign Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk while the Dutch defender was at Celtic.

Van Dijk and Liverpool host Bruce’s Newcastle side on Saturday, looking to maintain their perfect start to the Premier League season.

The Netherlands captain has excelled since his then-record breaking move from Southampton in January 2018, helping the Reds to a Champions League title last season while claiming this year's UEFA’s Player of the Year award.

But Bruce has revealed it could have been Hull City, not Southampton, who reaped the benefits of that big money transfer, had circumstances been different.

“Virgil van Dijk: wow, what a player,” Bruce told reporters. “We all know how good Liverpool are up front but signing him and the keeper [Alisson] gave Liverpool the backbone they needed, just took them to the next level.

“I could have taken him [Van Dijk] to Hull. I had dinner with Kenny Dalglish and the owner of Celtic, Dermot Desmond, in Barbados – I’m name-dropping now –and Desmond was waxing lyrical about the best players he’s had.

“He was saying: ‘[Henrik] Larsson is definitely, definitely the best I’ve seen play for Celtic in my ownership but what I can’t understand is nobody has gone for Van Dijk.’

“I thought: ‘That’s interesting, he’s seen a lot of football over the last 12 years,’ so I tried to get him before he went to Southampton but I had no chance.”

However, Bruce is well acquainted with another star of Liverpool’s back four, having brought in Andy Robertson from Dundee in 2014.

And Bruce explained how he managed to sign Scotland’s captain to the Tigers.

“Stan Ternent, my chief scout at the time, said: ‘I’ve just seen this kid at Dundee – we’ve got to take him,’” Bruce continued. “We did our homework. I went to see him and we took him. It was a little bit of a gamble.

“I remember him arriving with his mum, holding her hand. To be fair to him, we had a couple of injuries, I threw Andy in and he had an unbelievable debut against QPR. He hasn’t looked back, has he?”