Neil Warnock gets Celtic transfer numbers all wrong as he reveals Crystal Palace near-miss

Neil Warnock attempted to lure Virgil van Dijk to Crystal Palace
Neil Warnock attempted to lure Virgil van Dijk to Crystal Palace -Credit:SNS Group

Neil Warnock has told how he almost lured Virgil van Dijk from Celtic to Crystal Palace - only for his chairman to block the deal.

Managerial journeyman Warnock, 75, spent two spells at Selhurst Park and identified Van Dijk as a top target in 2014 after his breakout season at Parkhead. Plucked from Groningen for a bargain £2.6million, Van Dijk had taken the Scottish Premiership by storm and had attracted interest across Europe.

After sending scouts north of the border to spy on the Netherlands stopper, Warnock was given glowing reports and put Van Dijk at the top of his transfer wishlist. However, his attempts to sign the rolls-royce centre-back fell at the first hurdle after failing to convince chairman Steve Parish that he was good enough for the Premier League.

Speaking on the No Tippy Tappy Football podcast, Warnock claimed he could've poached Van Dijk for as little as £3m - a fanciful figure that would never have been accepted - before the future EPL and Champions League winner eventually moved on to Southampton for a £13.5m-plus deal the following summer.

The flop Aberdeen boss said: “Van Dijk was at Celtic and I nearly signed him to Crystal Palace for £3million. When he was there I sent someone up to watch him play and he came back and said ‘he’ll do for us!’.

"I said to Steve Parish, who’s still at Palace now, and the stats man that I want to sign Van Dijk for £3m. Parish, as with many of the other chairmen, rely on the stats man and he was saying that he didn’t think he was quick enough for the Premier League.

"I told them why he doesn’t look quick, he reads the game that well that he doesn’t have to break a sweat! I told them that if he was pushed in the Premier League, he’d sprint. We didn’t end up signing him and Southampton picked him up for four or five million and ended up getting 70 odd million for him when Liverpool signed him.

"I remember when we played Liverpool next, Van Dijk came up to me and said, ‘you nearly signed me!’ – he knew all about it. I said to him, ‘they told me you weren’t quick, you’re not really quick, are you?’ – and then I ran away from him!”