Ronny Deila insists Manchester City are regretting missing out on the chance to sign Virgil van Dijk prior to his move to England.
The former Celtic manager worked with Van Dijk as he paved his way to the Premier League during his impressive spell in Scotland.
Van Dijk asserted himself as a class above following his move from Groningen in 2013 and eventually earned a switch to Southampton two years later.
It could have been a different story for the centre-back, who was advertised to City only for the 2011/2012 champions to pass on the opportunity to sign him.
Discussing Van Dijk, Deila told Daily Record: “Virgil was special but when I came in I don’t think he was fit. He had things to work on and in training he was lazy.”
“I told him those things and that he had to work on getting 100 per cent in every session and to take care of his body.”
“When he said he was going I told him not to go to Southampton or Sunderland but straight to Manchester City or United. I said to him he was that good. I told City and they regret it now.”
An infamous transfer saga in summer 2017 saw Liverpool fend off reported interest from both City and Chelsea to convince Van Dijk to move to Anfield.
Liverpool were then forced to issue a public apology after an alleged illegal approach for the defender, who stayed put for the first half of the season.
Jurgen Klopp wasn’t to be denied his priority defensive target, with Van Dijk signing for the Reds in January before playing an instrumental role in the club’s top-four finish and Champions League charge.
His impact at the club has since diminished all doubts that loomed over the £75million Liverpool paid for his services.