Liverpool get their man at last as fee agreed for Virgil van Dijk
It has taken a world record fee for a defender, but Southampton centre half is on his way
Virgil van Dijk in action for Southampton at Anfield last month. Photograph: Jan Kruger/Getty Images
Liverpool will sign Virgil van Dijk from Southampton in January after agreeing a fee of £75m (€84m) for the Holland international – a world record for a defender.
The Merseyside club had wanted to take him last summer and indicated a willingness to pay £60m only for the move to break down in acrimonious fashion.
Southampton felt that Liverpool had overstepped the mark and tapped up Van Dijk – they would make a formal complaint to the Premier League and Liverpool duly backed off, with the player’s other suitors, chief among them Manchester City and Chelsea, doing likewise.
Southampton felt compelled to make a stand over their star player, as they began life under the new manager, Mauricio Pellegrino, and they hoped that Van Dijk would apply himself and recapture the form he had shown at St Mary’s since his £11.5 switch from Celtic in 2015 – if only for another season.
But it has not worked out that way. Van Dijk has appeared to have done no more than go through the motions and Pellegrino has come to accept that his departure in January was inevitable. He has not played him in Southampton’s last three matches.
“Liverpool Football Club can confirm they have reached an agreement with Southampton for the transfer of Virgil van Dijk,” read an official statement. “The Reds have agreed a deal with the south coast club, and the player himself, that will see the 26-year-old defender move to Anfield when the transfer window re-opens on January 1st, 2018.”
Southampton feel they have made their point over Van Dijk, even if they could no longer rely upon top-level performances from him. They have had no qualms about dealing with Liverpool – particularly as they have extracted a significantly higher fee from them. Their view is that January marks a fresh start and it is in their interests to take the money and move on.
Van Dijk, who will wear No4 at Liverpool and could make his debut in the FA Cup third-round tie against Everton on January 5th, is the latest player to move from St Mary’s to Anfield in recent years, following in the footsteps of Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Nathaniel Clyne and Sadio Mane.