Neil Lennon: This is what I told current PL star during his first day at Celtic
By Harvey Byrne
Former manager Neil Lennon has revealed that he told Virgil van Dijk to just enjoy himself at Celtic on his first day, as he wasn’t going to be at the club for long.
Van Dijk, now 25 made the switch to the Hoops in the summer of 2013 in a £2.6million move from Dutch club FC Groningen.
He impressed in Scotland, helping the Glasgow giants to two Premiership titles alongside a Scottish League Cup and he ended up moving south to Southampton just two years late for a £13million fee, earning Celtic a near £11million profit.
The powerful centre-back has since gone on to star in the Premier League and with some of Europe’s biggest clubs circling current Hibernian boss Lennon has told he is surprised it has taken this long for them to notice Van Dijk.
“The first day he came into Celtic I pulled him to one side after training and said ‘you enjoy yourself here because you’re not going to be here long,'” told Lennon to Sky Sports, as shown via the transfer centre blog (10.02pm).
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“I couldn’t believe we got him for €2.2million. He was outstanding. I couldn’t believe that none of the big clubs took a bite at him before Southampton.
“I believe he could play at any club side in Europe now – he’s that good. He’s only 24, he’s got 10 years in him. He has got everything you want from a modern-day centre-half: he’s powerful, he’s quick, technically brilliant, he reads the game well, superb in the air.
“So it doesn’t surprise me that the big clubs are coming in now – it’s just surprising that they have waited so long.”
Van Dijk played in 115 matches for Celtic during his two-year spell at the club and even contributed 15 goals and seven assists in those outings.
It has also been reported that the Hoops have a five per cent sell on clause inserted in the deal which took the Holland international to Southampton and with the centre-back still contracted to the Saints until 2022, Celtic could net a very healthy sum of money.
In other Celtic news, a tug-of-war is delaying the Hoops from completing this attacker deal.