Former Celtic boss Ronny Deila has revealed he actually recommended the centreback to the Citizens when the player decided to leave Parkhead in 2015, but the manger wasn't able to convince them to take a chance on the Dutch star.
Speaking on Si Ferry's 'Open Goal' podcast, he said: "Did I get in touch with City? Yes. I said, 'You have to take him'.
"They said, 'Okay, tell me the best European game he has played and we will watch it'. I couldn't tell them what game that was because he hadn't had any real good European games.
"He was really dominant in Scotland but he got sent off against Inter away.
"That was a big test. I think if he had played fantastically in that game, he would have been bought."
Ronny added that there the top clubs disregarded Scottish football and won't pay out for a player unless he's proven in Europe.
He explained: "I think the big clubs think Scottish football is too low level and they don't want to take a chance on a player for that kind of money.
"In Europe, then you can show how good you are. I think van Dijk was good, but he didn't have that one really, really good game in Europe."
Instead, van Dijk moved to Southampton in 2015 before moving on in January 2017 to become a rock in Liverpool's defence.