VIRGIL VAN DIJK insists: “It’s Celtic’s title!”

The ex-Hoops defender, who cost Liverpool a-then world record £75million when they signed him from Southampton in January 2018, believes Neil Lennon’s men have their ninth successive crown in the bag.

As the champions prepare for this afternoon’s visit of Kilmarnock, the Dutch international superstar, who left Glasgow in a £13million switch for the south coast outfit in August 2015, admitted he keeps tabs on his old team.

Van Dijk, speaking to BBC Scotland, said: “I still watch Celtic games. I have friends there – I’m still in contact with Nir Bitton – and I always keep an eye on how things are going.

“It’s 10 points’ difference now, so it’s not going to be in danger any more – it is Celtic’s title.”

The stylish back-four operator also praised boss Lennon as a “special manager and special man” after the Irishman brought him – then aged 21 – from FC Groningen in the summer of 2013.

Van Dijk, who inspired the Anfield outfit to their Champions League triumph last year, added: “I enjoyed every bit of working under him.

DUTCH OF CLASS…Virgil Van Dijk and Leigh Griffiths celebrate a Celtic goal in 2014.

“He brought me to Celtic, so I’ll always be grateful to him for that. He has been part of my journey so far. He was good.

“Obviously, he was a player himself and he knows how we think, what we go through. As a manager, he’s very direct, he tells you straight what is right and wrong. He’s a special manager and special man.

“I appreciate all the people who have helped me in my career and got me where I am today.”

It is looking odds-on there will be championship celebrations in Glasgow and Merseyside in this crucial campaign.

Van Dijk has led from the back as usual with Jurgen Klopp’s men racing away with the Premier League in whirlwind fashion.

They can edge even closer to their flag day success when they take on West Ham at Anfield tomorrow night.

* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Celtic v Kilmarnock this afternoon- only in your champion CQN.

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