Liverpool finally make a breakthrough in their pursuit of Virgil van Dijk
Liverpool have made a breakthrough in their enduring pursuit of Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk, according to a story on the back page of the Sunday World.
Kevin Palmer is reporting that a structured deal that is approaching Southampton’s lavish £70m asking price is close to being agreed, with Liverpool finally getting the green light to negotiate a deal for the Dutch defender after their unsolicited approaches for the player last summer forced the Anfield club to issue a public apology in a bid to avoid Football Association sanctions.
Independent.ie reported last week that Liverpool were reluctant to pay Southampton’s extravagant fee for the defender, but we hinted that the stance from the Anfield club may have been a bargaining position and now it appears they are ready to shatter their transfer record to sign manager Jurgen Klopp's top transfer target.
Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino has left Van Dijk out of his team for their last two Premier League matches, with the report suggesting that decision was made as talks between the two clubs made rapid progress.
"Virgil, we know there will be a lot of speculation about him he's important player but I can't say anything right now," stated the Pellegrino after his side's 1-1 draw with Huddersfield on Saturday.
"I decided that was best for this moment. This is the reason. I am responsible for picking 11 players, and I intend to pick the best for the team.
"Van Dijk's future? We have to wait."
Unless Manchester City or Chelsea back up their reported interest in the player with a bid that matches the offer on the table from Liverpool, the Sunday World story suggests it is likely that Van Dijk will seal his dream move to Anfield and he would be eligible to play for Liverpool in the knock-out stages of the Champions League.
His arrival will be welcomed by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, despite his claims Wednesday that he did not need to sign defenders in the January transfer window.
Those words came back to haunt Klopp as Liverpool turned in another error-strewn display in the 3-3 draw against Arsenal at Emirates Stadium on Friday, but the arrival of Van Dijk will be a welcome Christmas gift for all Reds fans.
Read the full story on Liverpool's pursuit of Virgil van Dijk in this week's Sunday World, including an exclusive column from Anfield scoring great John Aldridge.