Crystal Palace have made some terrible signings over the previous few years, with the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor and Shola Ameobi draining the club’s vital resources with very little end product, but it is perhaps a player that they didn’t sign which will be the greatest cause of regret.
Back in 2014, the Eagles had the chance to sign Virgil van Dijk, who was then at Celtic, for a measly £6m before Southampton pounced and grabbed the opportunity to bring the defender to the Premier League.
Neil Warnock, who was the manager at Selhurst Park at that time, has confirmed the story and expressed his misfortune at missing out on the player. The 73-year-old admitted: “We could have bought him at Palace for £6million but my chief scout told me he was too slow. I think he’s still in a job as well!”
The Dutchman joined Liverpool in 2018 as the Merseyside club spent a massive £75m to sign the defender, and it hasn’t worked out too badly for him or the Reds since then.
He has won pretty much every major honour with the club apart from the FA Cup (which could be added to his CV this weekend) and he has gone from strength to strength, more than paying back the money that Liverpool spent on him.
It is an interesting sliding doors moment for Palace, and although they have retained their Premier League status ever since promotion in 2013, having Van Dijk in the team may have given them a better chance of stabilising themselves in the top half or even pushing for Europe.
Warnock had a wonderful managerial career which took him to Sheffield United, Cardiff City and Palace among many others, but he might sometimes wake up in a cold sweat wondering what might have been if he had Van Dijk in his squad at Selhurst Park.