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Virgil Van Dijk Was Celtic’s Last Truly World Class Performer. Who Will Be Our Next One?

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I watched, as I’m sure most of us did, the game between Liverpool and Manchester City the other night with a great deal of admiration for the individual talents on display. Before the game, everyone who had an interest in the match was talking, it seemed to me, about just one player; the big City striker Erling Haaland, and not without good cause.

By the time the game finished, it was another two players who had stolen the show. Salah was excellent, and he took his goal brilliantly. But it was another player from the Anfield side who should have been at the centre of the headlines and that was big Virgil Van Dijk.

He had said before the match, in an extensive Sky interview, that he was looking forward to going up against Haaland. He played as if his life depended on it. But there were no crazy, rash tackles.

No rough-housing. Just quality versus quality … and Van Dijk won.

What a player we had on our hands when he was a Parkhead.

Was there any sign, then, that we were watching a football of true world class talent? Was there any indication that we were watching the man who would grow into being the best centre back in the world?

Some folk will say yes. People tell me often how they knew that he was way, way too good for Scottish football. My mate says he used to think, after games, that he performed at times like a dad playing football with his kids in the park, such was the ease with which he strolled through this division. I never thought of him in that way at all.

I believed he was an excellent central defender, for sure, but I would be lying if I said I had the slightest inkling we were watching a world beater. Does that mean we might be watching one of them at Celtic Park right now?

If so I think there are four possible candidates, and that’s incredible. I’m going to go through them one at a time, and you guys can tell me if you agree.

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  • S Thomas says:

    Some very good footballers we have, but no real elite, world class players. Van Dijk, is absolutely outstanding, Haaland as well. I also like young Foden, and Grealish, but both sides have world class all over the park. O’reilly, Juranovic, Jota, are very good players, but to be elite and world class, you need to prove it at the highest level.

    • Henriksgoldenboot says:

      Lustig was never in O’Neils teams. He joined us in 2012. You were thinking of Ulrik Laursen?

  • Jim says:

    No disrespect James, but your choices show why you didn’t get it right with Van Dijk.

    All good players, but only Carter-Vickers nudging at world-class at the moment. We did very well to get him.

  • Iljas Baker says:

    I think it’s impossible to say who’ll reach VVD’s level or even Tierney’s. I think the players you mentioned with the exception of Liel Abada are among out best and will be looking at some point for a big move. However CCV was absent from CL and Hatate only had one good game against Real Madrid. The others were mediocre as was Jota. A lot depends on how they develop over the next year and how they perform in CL remaining games and next year.

    Hatate is inconsistent and seems to lose focus

    Not sure what O’R’s best position is but if he is to play a more attacking role he needs to improve his shooting, he’s scored way too few goals so far and he doesn’t look as though he can blast them in.

    Abada is too inconsistent and can’t really dribble. His all round game needs to improve. He gets into good scoring positions when there are weaker defenses.

    CCV strolls it in the SPFL but we need to see him against better opposition.

    At the moment I’d say hatate is the most likely to earn us 30M pounds.

  • Bob (original) says:

    Potentially, we have a few players who could become world class – if they keep developing, and then do a VVD and transfer to a CL winning club.

    I am becoming a bit of fanboy for Abada.

    Didn’t take much notice of him last season, as Jota and Kyogo were blowing the opposition away. But this season Abada has shown glimpses of his real potential.
    World Class though? Nowhere near it just now, but who knows in the future…?

  • James Murphy says:

    Keaton Teirney I n my mind was the best back since Danny Mcgrain and I agree about Virgil

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