The imminent transfer of Virgil van Dijk from Southampton to Liverpool is one which is sure to give rise to endless debate in the coming months, especially given his £75 million price tag.
One man who is not so convinced of the Dutchman’s world-class label is Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock. Warnock, who has managed in the Premier League on multiple occasions, in fact believes that Van Dijk is not even as good as one of his own defenders – Sol Bamba.
Warnock made the bizarre comparison between the two ahead of Cardiff’s game with Preston on Friday, and speaking to journalists, the former QPR manager outlined his reasons for such, as well as contradicting himself by admitting that he tried to sign Van Dijk in his time at Crystal Palace.
Warnock said (via Sky Sports):
“I think Van Dijk has got better attributes on the ball than Sol Bamba but I don’t think he is a better defender.”
“I think Sol Bamba is slightly better than Van Dijk defensive-wise. I think Van Dijk has got more confidence on the ball and looks easier on the eye, but I don’t think he is better defensively.”
“At centre-half I was looking at Van Dijk. I suggested we buy him for £6m at the time and the chief scout said he wasn’t quick enough and didn’t see him stepping up to the level we were looking for. I hope he’s watching this morning that chief scout, £75 million!”
Warnock also took the opportunity to comment on Liverpool’s transfer business, then criticising the club for their hesitancy to sign a player for £75 million that he had just classed below Sol Bamba:
“What a wasted few months. They should have done that over the summer rather than messing about with £50m or whatever it was.
“Why not just do it over the summer and get him. It’s a waste because Liverpool have needed a centre-half for a long, long time haven’t they? I think they’ll be kicking themselves that they didn’t do it months ago.”
While the comments regarding the transfer from Warnock will be agreed with by many, his comparison between his own player and Van Dijk will probably be viewed a lot differently.
With no disrespect to Sol Bamba, these comments regarding the transfer are surely the most controversial to date.
One thing is for certain, unless Van Dijk is an instant hit at Anfield, the debate will rumble on for months to come.
Jordan Norris, Pundit Arena