Liverpool have finally won the race to sign Southampton centre-back Virgil van Dijk after agreeing a world record £75 million fee for a defender.
The two clubs have again been in discreet negotiations in recent days following the acrimonious breakdown of a potential deal last summer and have today reached agreement on the transfer.
Manchester City and Chelsea are both also interested and have made inquiries at different stages of the past six months but, barring any late super-bid from another club, Van Dijk will get his move to Liverpool.
Liverpool did not ultimately make a formal offer to Southampton last summer but were ready to pay around £60 million after it became clear that Van Dijk wanted to join them. Southampton were furious at the leak of information before a fee had been agreed and their complaint to the Premier League prompted an apology from Liverpool and an agreement not to pursue the deal.
That position held throughout the summer transfer window, with Southampton also turning down a large offer from Chelsea. Van Dijk then missed the start of the season amid concern at his focus before being reintegrated back into the team under new manager Mauricio Pellegrino. He has since been left out of the recent games against Chelsea, Huddersfield Town and Tottenham Hotspur.
Premier League leaders Manchester City are also keen and were preparing a £60 million opening bid but the situation has moved on quickly in recent days and Southampton are now extremely close to an agreement with Liverpool.
Personal terms on around £180,000-a-week are likely to be a formality and there is a growing feeling that a deal may even be completed ahead of the transfer window formally opening next Monday. Van Dijk’s preference has been Liverpool and the chance to work with their manager, Jurgen Klopp.
The world record transfer for a defender is the £54 million that Manchester City spent on Kyle Walker last summer.
A fee of £75 million would also be level with Romelu Lukaku as the second most expensive transfer in Premier League history, behind only Manchester United’s £90 million purchase of Paul Pogba.
Southampton have won one of their last 11 games and have now decided that it would be better to sell Van Dijk and reinvest the fee this January. Pellegrino is under growing pressure but has had the Van Dijk situation hanging over him since replacing Claude Puel as manager last summer.