Bruce will come up against the Dutch centre-back when his Newcastle side face Premier League leaders Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday.
“Virgil van Dijk: wow, what a player," he said.
“I could have taken him [Van Dijk] to Hull. I had dinner with Kenny Dalglish and the owner of Celtic, Dermot Desmond, in Barbados – I'm name-dropping now – and Desmond was waxing lyrical about the best players he's had.
"He was saying: '[Henrik] Larsson is definitely, definitely the best I've seen play for Celtic in my ownership but what I can't understand is nobody has gone for Van Dijk.'
“I thought: 'That's interesting, he's seen a lot of football over the last 12 years,' so I tried to get him before he went to Southampton but I had no chance."