Van Dijk was told on day one at Celtic: 'You're not going to be here long, so enjoy yourself'

Comments()
Getty
Former Bhoys boss Neil Lennon has revealed that he was never in any doubt that the world's most expensive defender was destined for big things

Former Celtic manager Neil Lennon has revealed he did not expect centre-back Virgil van Dijk to stay at Parkhead on a long-term basis.

The Dutchman was acquired from Groningen in 2013 for just £1.75m ($2m), and spent two years in Glasgow, but it quickly became apparent that he was destined to fulfil his potential outside of Glasgow.

Southampton ended up taking him to England in Scotland in 2015, before a record-breaking £75 million ($97m) transfer saw him join the ranks at Anfield in January 2018.

That deal raised a few eyebrows at the time, but not with Lennon who told BT Sport of the Netherlands international: “I was really surprised that no one came in earlier for him when he was at Celtic.

“After one day I pulled him in after training and said to him 'Look, you're not going to be here long, so enjoy yourself.'

“He was just that good. And I couldn't believe our luck that we had got him from Groningen for €2million. He had everything.

“Pace, great physicality, technique and superb in the air in both boxes.”

Van Dijk has been showered with praise since linking up with Liverpool.

He is considered to have helped turn Jurgen Klopp’s side into genuine Premier League title contenders.

The Reds boast the best defensive record in the English top-flight this season and currently sit level on points with Manchester City while having a game in hand on the defending champions.

Their focus is about to switch to European matters, though, in the Champions League.

Article continues below

German giants Bayern Munich are due at Anfield on Tuesday for the first leg of an eagerly-anticipated last-16 encounter.

Van Dijk will play no part in that contest as he must serve a continental ban, but will be back for the return leg and some testing domestic fixtures set to be taken in by the Reds over the next few weeks.

As for Bayern, they confirmed on Saturday that Kingsley Coman will be fit for the clash following an injury he picked up in Friday's 3-2 victory against Augsburg,

Close