Preston manager Alex Neil says he does not believe Celtic would have paid the "substantial fee" needed to sign Ben Davies in January, after he eventually joined Liverpool on deadline day.
Celtic manager Neil Lennon admitted it was "a blow" Liverpool "gazumped" their proposed deal to sign Davies.
The reigning Scottish Premiership champions had agreed to sign Davies on a pre-contract agreement at the end of the current season earlier in the winter window.
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But Liverpool agreed a £1.6m fee with Championship side Preston for the 25-year-old centre-back on Sunday before completing the signing on deadline day.
"To my knowledge the deal with Celtic was one that looked as if that was where he was going to end up," Neil said.
"However, we would have not allowed him to go to Celtic in this window unless there was a substantial fee attached to it, which I don't think we would have got from them.
"With all the conversations I had with Ben Davies, I anticipated him staying until the end of the season but when Liverpool came in that blew everything out of the water."
Davies' move from Championship side Preston to Premier League champions Liverpool came as surprise to many, but Neil believes Davies can produce at the higher level if given the opportunities to perform.
"I don't think people should be surprised because he has done very well with us. I think he is at a stage, certainly this season, where his game has come together," he added.
"I think if he does get an opportunity he can become a real quality centre-back."