Steve Bruce reveals failed defender bid

Steve Bruce isn’t surprised at the impact of Virgil van Dijk at Liverpool – having tried to sign him himself.
Virgil van Dijk.Virgil van Dijk.
Virgil van Dijk.

Bruce’s Newcastle United side must try to find a way past the £75million defender at Anfield this afternoon.

Van Dijk and goalkeeper Alisson transformed Jurgen Klopp’s side into a title-challenging Premier League team, according to Bruce.

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“We all know how good they are up front, but I believe the signings of Alisson and van Dijk made them what they are now,” said Bruce. “Him and the goalkeeper just took them to that next level. They’re unbelievable at the other end, but you need that stability at the back.

Steve Bruce.Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.

“You have to give credit to Klopp, because he’s transformed them, really. They’re just about as good as I’ve ever seen, but whether they are as good as the Liverpool team of the eighties is up for debate.”

Bruce tried to sign van Dijk from Celtic while he was in charge of Hull City.

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“Yes, I could have taken him to Hull,” said Bruce. “I had dinner with Kenny Dalglish and the owner of Celtic, Dermot Desmond, in Barbados, and the owner of Celtic was waxing lyrical about the best players he's had.

“He was saying '(Henrik) Larsson is definitely the best player that I've seen play for Celtic in my ownership, (but) what I can't understand is, nobody’s gone for van Dijk'.

“I thought 'that's interesting, he's seen a lot of football over the last 12 years', so I went and we tried. I tried to get him before he went to Southampton (for) about £10million, £12million. I was nowhere near getting him. I tried, but I had no chance.”

Bruce, however, did sign Liverpool left-back Andy Robertson from Dundee United while Hull manager.

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“Stan Ternent, my chief scout, said ‘I’ve just seen this kid – we’ve got to take him’,” said Bruce. “I went to see him and we took him.

“It was a little bit of a gamble. I remember him arriving with his mum, holding her hand. To be fair to him, we had a couple of injuries and I threw him in. He had an unbelievable debut. He hasn’t looked back, has he?”