Ex-Celtic boss reveals how he talked Liverpool ace Virgil van Dijk out of Sunderland move

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Former Celtic manager Ronny Delia has revealed how he talked the world's most expensive defender Virgil Van Dijk out of a move to Sunderland.

The 27-year-old joined Liverpool from Southampton in January for a world record £75million fee for a defender - and it could have been the Black Cats profiting from his success... if it weren't for Delia.

Former Celtic manager Ronny Delia has revealed how he talked the world's most expensive defender Virgil Van Dijk out of a move to Sunderland.

Former Celtic manager Ronny Delia has revealed how he talked the world's most expensive defender Virgil Van Dijk out of a move to Sunderland.

Before opting to join the Saints in September 2015, Van Dijk wanted to move to the Wearside after Sunderland witnessed several bids, thought to be in the region of £6-8million, turned down for the Netherlands international.

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The Scottish champions resisted Sunderland's approach across many transfer windows before Southampton's bid of £11.5million proved enough to bring him to the South Coast.

Across three seasons at St Mary's, Van Dijk's went on to establish himself as one the best centre-halves in the Premier League, attracting the interest of Liverpool, who called on him to solve their defensive woes.

It's a case of 'here's what you could have won' for the Stadium of Light-faithful - and it's all because of Delia...

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"He wanted to go away, he wanted to make the next step and I was very hard on him," the 43-year-old told A Celtic State of Mind podcast.

"I said ‘you shouldn’t go to Sunderland, Southampton or whatever, you should go to the biggest club because you have the potential to be there.’

"But he didn’t believe me at the time. But one year in Southampton and he was already there.

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"He can maybe be the best central defender in the world. You can see the potential he has."