Liverpool seal Van Dijk signing

Liverpool have finally won the race to sign Southampton centre-back Virgil van Dijk for a world record £75 million fee for a defender.

The two clubs had again been in discreet negotiations in recent days following the acrimonious breakdown of a potential deal last summer and today reached an agreement on the transfer.

Personal terms and a medical have been completed and confirmation was made by Liverpool this evening. 

Manchester City and Chelsea were both also interested and made inquiries at different stages of the past 12 months but Van Dijk will move to Anfield on January 1.

The Dutch defender has been handed the No 4 shirt and becomes the most expensive defender in world football.

The previous world record transfer for a defender was the £54m that Manchester City spent on Kyle Walker last summer.

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 had since been left out of the recent games against Chelsea, Huddersfield Town and Tottenham Hotspur.

Premier League leaders Manchester City had been keen and were preparing a £60 million opening bid but the situation moved on quickly in recent days and Southampton finally reached an agreement with Liverpool.

Personal terms on around £180,000-a-week had been agreed and Van Dijk's preference had always been Liverpool and the chance to work with their manager, Jurgen Klopp.

"Delighted and honoured to have agreed to become a Liverpool FC player!" said Van Dijk. "Today is a proud day for me and family as I join one of the biggest clubs in world football!

"I can't wait to pull on the famous red shirt for the first time in front of the Kop and will give everything I have to try and help this great club achieve something special in the years to come.

"I would also like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Les Reed, the board, manager, players, fans and everyone at Southampton. I will always be indebted to the club for giving me the opportunity to play in the Premier League and despite a difficult last few months I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Saints and have made friends for life at the club. Thank you for everything."

Van Dijk's fee of £75m is level with Romelu Lukaku as the second most expensive transfer in Premier League history, behind only Manchester United’s £90m 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.

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