LIVERPOOL have won the race to sign the best defender in the Premier League which will leave Manchester City and Chelsea disappointed but Celtic delighted.
Virgil van Dijk moved from Celtic to Southampton in a £13.5million deal in August 2015 with Celtic’s Chief Executive insisting on a 15% sell on clause.
The Dutchman, who has just recovered from an ankle injury that has kept him out of the Saints side since January, has been hugely impressive on the south coast and was rewarded at the end of his debut season in English football with a much improved 4 year extension.
However it was always going to be difficult for Southampton to hold on to their skipper given interest from the big hitters in the Premier League.
Liverpool thought that they had their man last week but the talks hit a snag on the structure of the £180,000 weekly salary on offer. The Anfield side altered the terms to £140,000 per week with the rest as twin bonus, and this change didn’t sit well with the big Dutchman’s advisors.
Manchester City saw this as an opportunity with Pep Guardiola raising the stakes further by putting a £200k weekly wage offer on the table over the weekend.
But it seems that the player wants to play for Liverpool and this will be a massive boost for Jürgen Klopp who has made the signing his top summer priority.
While a deal with the player looks like it has now been agreed, the Anfield club will have to do business with Southampton yet again. The Saints are aware of the intense interest in Van Dijk and have slapped a £70million price tag on his head.
Van Dijk would be Liverpool’s biggest ever signing – Celtic supporters will recall them paying just £440,000 for Kenny Dalglish in the summer 1977.
With Van Dijk in his side Klopp would be confident that he could win the Premier League next season, something that only Brendan Rodgers has come close to in the modern era.
“I’m really optimistic for our future, not because I’m crazy but only because I know what we have, I know what we will get, I know what we can get, and I know that we really have a super bunch of people – knowledge, character – not just the players, all around,” the Anfield boss said.
He is also set to sign Mohamed Salah from Roma with the Italians looking to sell the Egyptian for £35m. If this deal for the former Chelsea winger goes through and Van Dijk ends up at Anfield then the German will have parted with £100 million with around £7million heading back to Celtic.
And some would argue that £7million would have been a fairer transfer fee for Dalglish in 1977!