When Celtic signed a 21-year-old Virgil van Dijk for a mere £1.74m back in the summer of 2013, many of the Parkhead faithful may not have even heard the centre-back’s name before, let alone been aware of the potential he possessed.
However, after an extremely impressive debut campaign in which the defender featured in all but two of the Bhoys Scottish Premiership fixtures, helping his side keep a whopping 20 clean sheets and chipping in with five goals and one assist on the way to the league title, Hoops fans were certainly well aware of the youngster’s ability before too long.
Is Van Dijk Celtic’s best signing of the last 10 years?
The former FC Groningen man went on to have another fantastic season at Parkhead the following year, scoring four goals, registering six assists and helping his side keep 21 clean sheets over his 35 league appearances, in addition to scoring a further six goals in the club’s various cup competitions – taking his total haul to ten goals and six assists in 2014/15.
As was perhaps to be expected after these two exceptional campaigns, the 6 foot 4 centre-back then began to attract a great deal of interest in the summer transfer window, with Southampton eventually coughing up £13m in order to prise the defender away from Glasgow.
And, while this may well seem a low figure when taking into account, just three years later, Liverpool paid a world record £75m to bring the Netherlands international to Anfield, Celtic must nevertheless be praised for being the side who took a chance on the centre-back.
Indeed, the Hoops still made a handsome profit on the player who Jurgen Klopp dubbed an “outstanding” talent, and are still undoubtedly benefitting from the path that the £49.5m-rated man blazed upon his departure from Parkhead.
The example of 30-year-old van Dijk is a tactic that the Celtic board will certainly use when attempting to convince a transfer target of a move to Glasgow, something that is priceless to the club.