Crystal Palace have been praised for their transfer business since Patrick Vieira’s arrival at Selhurst Park, with the Frenchman taking over the team that was the oldest in the Premier League before injecting some exciting youngsters into the squad.
Conor Gallagher, Marc Guehi, Odsonne Edouard and Michael Olise are all young players who were brought in last summer to improve the team at Selhurst Park, becoming important and key players in Vieira’s philosophy.
However, Palace didn’t always get it right before the French manager was appointed and back in 2014 the club had probably their biggest transfer howler of all time when they missed their opportunity to sign Liverpool superstar Virgil van Dijk for just £5m.
At the time, the Dutch defender was making a name for himself in Scotland with Celtic but dreamed of playing in the Premier League, eventually catching the attention of both Palace and Southampton who then battled it out for his signature, but the Eagles pulled out at the very last minute.
It is claimed that a scouting report was the reason Palace made the terrible decision not to sign now one of the best centre-backs in the world, with Neil Warnock revealing exactly why the club snubbed the opportunity (via The Mirror):
“The one that got away was Van Dijk. I got offered him when I was at Crystal Palace for just £5m back in 2014.”
“But my chief scout said he was too slow and he ended up at Southampton instead! It’s a shame because anything he may lack in pace, he makes up for 10-fold in his ability to read the game.”
Since then, Van Dijk has won a Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, EFL League Cup and UEFA Super Cup, signing for Liverpool back in 2017, and set a Premier League record in March 2022 when he didn’t lose a single league game at Anfield for 60 consecutive fixtures with 52 victories and eight draws.
The £220k-per-week ace who was hailed “outrageous” by Jonathan Woodgate, is now worth £45m, an eye-watering nine times more than Crystal Palace could’ve signed him for eight years ago. And to rub further salt in the wound, Southampton had the pleasure of cashing in on Van Dijk for a whopping £75m, something that Steve Parish will surely lose sleep over.
With that being said, when you look at not only the player Van Dijk has become but also the financials involved and the asset the talented player became it may even be one of the worst Premier League transfer decisions of all time.