Liverpool: Reds Head Van Dijk Race
Reports claim Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk prefers a move to Liverpool over Chelsea and Manchester City...
One of the Premier League's most-wanted stars could be Anfield bound after widespread media reports on Monday claimed Virgil van Dijk has set his heart on a summer transfer to Liverpool.
The centre-back is thought to be on the radar of a number of the country's top clubs, including champions Chelsea and big spending Manchester City, but has informed relevant parties that the Reds are his preferred destination.
Liverpool are known admirers of the 25-year-old and both Sky Sports and the Guardian go as far as saying the Merseysiders are ready to smash their £35million transfer record and offer van Dijk as much as £200,000-per-week to acquire the Southampton captain.
Although reticent to state such headline-grabbing figures, other sources, including the credible Liverpool ECHO, agree that the Dutch international is firmly on Kop boss Jürgen Klopp's wanted list and that the ex-Borussia Dortmund manager is prepared to match any financial package offered by the likes of Chelsea and City to get his man.
The prospect of working with the charismatic German is understood to be a key factor in van Dijk being prepared to resist overtures from elsewhere and focus on a switch to Merseyside.
Southampton are said to be reluctant sellers however and they are demanding in the region of £50-£60million for a player who has five years remaining on his contract.
Celtic, from whom van Dijk signed for £13million in the summer of 2015, are due 10% of any transfer fee under the terms of the previous deal.
The former Groningen defender missed the second half of last season with an ankle ligament injury but is set to be fully recovered in time for the start of pre-season training.
Van Dyke's two seasons at St Mary's yielded 68 appearances, seven goals and the 2015/16 Southampton Player of the Season award.
During that debut campaign on the South Coast he won the first of his 12 senior international caps.
Should it happen, a summer transfer for van Dyke could set a new world record fee for a defender, eclipsing the £50million David Luis generated when moving from Chelsea to Paris Saint-German in June 2014.
There is no doubting van Dyke's quality or Liverpool's need to strengthen at the back but the prospect of outlaying such an eye-watering amount on a defender will leave some supporters cold. All will be in agreement however that being prepared to break the club's transfer record for van Dijk, in addition to making a £28million bid for Mohamed Salah, shows great intent and desire on behalf of owners Fenway Sports Group. Such a feeling is enforced by the fact that, unlike previous summers, there won't be a massive amount raised in sales to offset such lavish spending. As for van Dijk, he's an excellent, committed, well-rounded defender who has already proved himself in the Premier League and who still has the best years of his career ahead of him. Southampton's position could mean negotiations are long and arduous but, more often than not, the will of the player tends to win out in the end. Prospects for success would be strengthened should he arrive.
Likelihood (out of 5):
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