NEIL LENNON has taken a huge swipe at the Premier League snobbery that seen many ‘big clubs’ miss out on a bargain in the form of Virgil van Dijk.
The Irishman brought the defender to Celtic Park back in 2013 from FC Groningen after he watched the player personally play against Ajax.
Neil has spoken recently of his disbelief and the embarrassing nature of why big English scouts didn’t go for van Dijk before he became the worlds most expensive defender.
“I thought he would have been snapped up from Celtic well before he was,” Lennon admitted.
“The fact that he played in Scotland maybe slowed the process down a little bit. A lot of scouts and managers should be hanging their heads.
“It’s embarrassing. I got calls from big clubs about Van Dijk on a number of occasions. I just could not believe what they were waiting for. Southampton did the right thing. They came in and did the business and it was an absolute no-brainer.”
As Neil says, Southampton put the money up in what would be Celtic record transfer fee received at around £12million with a tasty sell on fee added – something Celtic cashed in on with the Liverpool move.
The Hibs boss speculates on why bigger clubs missed the boat on Virgil.
“Maybe their perception of the Scottish game has cost them. It has cost Liverpool a lot of money but, in the end, it’s probably money well spent. He has made Liverpool better. I think he has been the missing link really.
“But, they could have had him for £10 to 12 million two or three years ago if they had done their jobs properly.”
Neil even goes as far as saying he couldn’t believe his luck that when Celtic went to sign him, there were no English scouts for miles and they picked up such a n incredible bargain.
“When I saw him playing for Groningen, he used to bring the ball out of defence, hit a pass 40-50 yards on a six-pence to the winger. I thought ‘there must be English Premiership scouts watching this guy’. In the end, we got him for just over two million euros. I couldn’t believe my luck.”