VIRGIL VAN DIJK reckons he is already a better player than he was at Celtic – after only five games for Southampton.
The classy centre-half spent two years at the Hoops before his £13million summer move to England’s top flight.
Van Dijk has gone straight into Ronald Koeman’s first team and was outstanding in his side’s 3-1 win over Premier League champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge at the weekend.
The Dutchman, who opened his scoring account with a goal in the recent 3-1 victory over Swansea, said: “I’ve been in five games at Southampton and have learned much more than in the previous years, so I’m definitely going forward as a football player.
“However, I have to admit the adjustment was tough.
”The game is much faster in England than in Scotland.
“The midfield is sometimes like pinball, I had to get used to it.”
The Hoops are also trying to get used to life without the 24-year-old’s calming influence at the back.
Ronny Deila has had to search for a new central defence with Van Dijk’s partner last season, Jason Denayer, returning to his parent club Manchester City after his season-long loan deal.
There was a chance of the Belgian international returning to Paradise for this campaign, but that was vetoed when Celtic lost to Malmo and toppled out of the Champions League.
Instead, Denayer is now at Turkish giants Galatasaray for the rest of the term.
Deila is hoping Jozo Simunovic, his £5.5million signing from Dinamo Zagreb, will provide part of his defensive jigsaw in the forthcoming months.
The Croatian international defender has been struggling for fitness since last month’s move and has played only one game – the 2-2 Europa League draw against Ajax in Amsterdam.
Deila is refusing to rush the player who might have a chance of his SPFL debut against Motherwell at Fir Park a week on Saturday.