He said: "He was Rio Ferdinand in the making. He had all of those attributes - he was quick, composed, brilliant in the air in both boxes.
"Everything you're seeing now, at Premier League and European level, that's what I saw. I couldn't believe there was no English interest.
"I also couldn't believe he was at Celtic for two seasons! I thought he might have gone after the first."
Asked if he was envious that Premier League clubs had the funds to keep such players, Lennon went on to say: "It would be nice to be able to compete with them. I wouldn't say 'envious'. I like finding players under the radar.
"There is a lot of untapped natural talent here. Ideally you'd love to hold on to these players because then we'd have a strong chance of achieving something in Europe."