Why Arsenal and Wenger committed a blunder by not signing Virgil van Dijk
According to reports in Express, Arsenal turned down an opportunity sign Virgil van Dijk when he was at Celtic before joining Southampton. The former Hoops boss John Collins claimed the same in one of the TV shows on BEIN Sports.
Van Dijk arrived in the Premier League in 2015 for a fee of around £13m after an impressive two-year spell in Scotland. The Dutchman was watched by English clubs when he was at Celtic Park, including Liverpool and Arsenal. However, the big guns thought otherwise when there was a chance to sign the centre-back. (Express)
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger was keen on buying the Dutchman but chief scout Steve Rowley thought he was too “nonchalant” for Arsenal. Eventually, Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool have bought him for a world-record fee but back then, Brendan Rodgers didn’t fancy grabbing the opportunity to get the player. (Express)
Here’s why the north London have committed a mistake not going hard to buy Van Dijk back in the time:
Big Virg’s world-class impact
Upon his arrival at Anfield in January, it was a widespread opinion that Liverpool have spent more than required for the player. However, the way he has improved their defence and stamped his authority, it seems like £75m is not a big fee.
There is a cliche in football that people talk about a player’s fee being high until he starts performing. And Van Dijk began to influence the Reds’ defence from the day he arrived.
Arsenal haven’t been good defensively, just like Liverpool were before the Dutchman arrived. Hence, we wonder whether the Gunners have made a huge mistake by not signing him when he was at Celtic. The 27-year-old is nonchalant and laid back but the way he ticks other boxes in the game is imperious.
Van Dijk possesses the recovery pace, aerial dominance, game-reading of the highest order and authority on the pitch. Klopp and his men are benefiting from these attributes now.
The Liverpool star is everything that the Arsenal fans thought Shkodran Mustafi would turn out to be. Had the Gunners spent on signing Van Dijk from Celtic, he’d have probably forged an unbreakable partnership alongside Laurent Koscielny, which would have painted a completely different picture of the Gunners back then.
A defence featuring Koscielny, Van Dijk and Per Mertesacker would have been able to keep things tight at the back and win the league for Wenger’s Arsenal. Unfortunately, that has not been the case.
It is difficult to understand how a player would perform when he is coming from a different league. Hence, in that aspect, we can sympathise with Arsenal’s decision to not pursue the 27-year-old.
But the way the Dutchman has taken the Premier League by the scruff of the neck and established himself as one of the best in the league, it is hard to fathom how the Gunners missed him. Yet another decision to rue, Arsenal? Probably yes!