Former Arsenal attacker Paul Merson revealed on the Gillette Soccer Saturday show on Sky Sports News HQ on Saturday afternoon (broadcast from 12pm, May 7) the conversation he had with Celtic’s majority shareholder Dermot Desmond about Virgil van Dijk in the summer of 2015.
Celtic sold Van Dijk to Southampton in the summer of 2015, and the defender has established himself as a key figure for the Saints.
The Netherlands international centre-back has also signed a new six-year contract with the Premier League outfit.
Former Arsenal attacker Merson has revealed what Desmond told him about the 24-year-old back at the start of the 2015-16 campaign.
“I was playing golf at the start of the season with Dermot Desmond, who sold him from Celtic,” said the former England international on the Gillette Soccer Saturday show on Sky Sports News HQ on Saturday afternoon (broadcast from 12pm, May 7). “I said, ‘What will he be like?’ He went, ‘He will rip it up. He is different class’.”
“He said he will get goals, he said he can pass, he can defend,” added Merson.
Van Dijk has scored three goals and created eight chances in 32 Premier League appearances for Southampton this campaign.
The former Groningen star, who was at Celtic for two seasons, has a pass accuracy of 83% and a shot accuracy of 43%, and has won 149 headers, 16 dribbles and 43 tackles.
Southampton are seventh in the Premier League table at the moment with 57 points from 36 matches.