BY ALAN TEMPLE – Capital City Press
Virgil van Dijk insists his decision to leave Celtic has already made him a better player.
The 24-year-old joined Southampton in an £11 million deal in August and has settled into life at St Mary’s with aplomb, making five appearances and even scoring against Swansea City.
However, Van Dijk’s most impressive performance to date came on Saturday as he shackled the likes of Falcao, Oscar and Pedro to help the Saints claim a sensational 3-1 against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
The big Dutchman admits his move to England has been a steep learning curve, but reckons he is improving at a rate that would not have been possible at Celtic.
He told nu.nl: “At Southampton I am learning a lot during every match, much more than during recent years at Celtic.
“I have settled in completely now. I have played five games in a row for Southampton and, although it was tough at first, it is a lot better now.
“There was a lot to learn and get used to – the game is so much faster here, it is like a pinball machine, but so far it has gone well for me.
“I am feeling confident and hope to carry on like this.”
Van Dijk’s whirlwind two months is set to continue during the international break, with the former Groningen man expected to make his senior debut for Holland.
National boss Danny Blind is without regular centre-backs Stefan de Vrij and Bruno Martins Indi, leaving Van Dijk in line to deputise against Kazakhstan and the Czech Republic.
However, the former Hoops star refused to put his impending international debut down to finally departing Scotland.
He continued: “I don’t know whether [leaving the Scottish Premiership] has anything to do with the opportunity, because I was also called up during my time at Celtic.
“However, the timing is perfect now. I am playing in the Premier League in England and, if I am selected by the coach, I feel ready to show I can play at this level.”