Former Sheffield United boss reveals he almost signed Premier League star for £3m

Former Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock shed light on a moment when he nearly purchased an eventual modern day Premier League star.

Crystal Palace came agonisingly close to securing the services of a future defensive titan, Virgil van Dijk, for a mere £3 million.

Recalling the pivotal moment, Warnock revealed on the No Tippy Tappy Football podcast, “Van Dijk was at Celtic and I nearly signed him to Crystal Palace for £3 million.” However, despite the tantalising prospect of acquiring a player who would later become one of the world’s best defenders, Palace’s decision-makers were swayed by statistical analysis, ultimately leading them to pass on the opportunity.

Former Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock was denied chance to sign Virgil van Dijk

The club’s statistical analysis department deemed Van Dijk not fast enough to thrive in the Premier League’s demanding environment, a decision that would later prove to be a costly one.

Warnock, however, contested this assessment, recognising Van Dijk’s exceptional footballing intelligence. “I told them why he doesn’t look quick, he reads the game that well that he doesn’t have to break a sweat!”

The former Sheffield United boss’s astute observation of Van Dijk’s abilities was vindicated in the years that followed. Despite Palace’s hesitation, Southampton seized the opportunity and secured Van Dijk’s signature from Celtic for a modest fee ranging between £4 to £5 million.

It was a move that proved to be a masterstroke for the Saints, as Van Dijk quickly established himself as one of the Premier League’s most dominant defenders and eventually left the South coast to join Liverpool for £75 million.

Tags Former manager