Virgil van Dijk claims Celtic “did everything” to keep him at the club only for the lure of English football to prove too much.
After months of speculation, the 24-year-old Dutch defender has joined Barclays Premier League side Southampton on a five-year deal for a fee widely reported to be around £11million.
Van Dijk signed from Dutch side Groningen in June 2013 and made 115 appearances for the Hoops, scoring 15 goals and capturing two league titles and one League Cup during his time in Glasgow.
“I would like to thank all the Celtic fans for the magnificent support they have given me during my time at the club,” he told Celtic’s official website.
“Celtic is a brilliant football club; it will always be in my heart and I will always be a Celtic supporter myself.
“I know Celtic did not want me to leave and wanted to extend my contract. The club did everything to keep me and I appreciate that but I felt the time was right for a new challenge in the English Premier League.
“I thank everyone at the club, the manager and all the staff and I wish Celtic and the fans the very best for the future.”
A spokesperson for Celtic said: “Celtic did absolutely everything we could to keep Virgil at the club, including an offer of a new extended contract on a number of occasions.
“However, it became very clear that he had made his mind up on seeking a new challenge in the English Premier League.
“Virgil has served Celtic very well for the past two seasons, we thank him for his contribution to the club and we wish him all the best for the future at Southampton.”