Liverpool poised to beat rivals for Van Dijk signature

Liverpool look certain to win the race for Virgil van Dijk, after the player told them they are his preferred choice if, as expected, he leaves Southampton.

The Holland international has established himself as one of the best central defenders in the Premier League since leaving Celtic for the Saints in 2015, having gone on to make 55 appearances in the competition. He now looks certain to become the next big-name player to leave St Mary’s, as they look to make a big profit on their £11.5million outlay.

A number of clubs, notably Chelsea and Manchester City, are widely thought to have pencilled the 25-year-old in as a target for this summer, but it has been widely reported that he has told Liverpool he wants to join them. It is thought the player has been particularly impressed with head coach Jurgen Klopp and his personal involvement in pursuing his signature.

Although Southampton chairman Ralph Krueger last month stated he would be prepared to reject bids for van Dijk, in reality, a fee of around £50million would be too much for them to refuse. If the Reds offer such a fee and are give the go-ahead to complete a deal, they may need to offer the defender wages in the region of £200,000 to push the transfer over the line.

Klopp could recoup some of this outlay by offloading Mamadou Sakho. The France international fell out of favour with the German last season, and spent the second half of the campaign at Crystal Palace where he played a key role in keeping them up despite only making eight appearances. The Eagles have been told they can take the 27-year-old on a permanent basis for £30million.

Meanwhile, Liverpool are closing on Mohamed Salah. An offer of £28million has already been made and rejected by Roma, who are nonetheless resigned to losing the Egypt international in the coming weeks. It is believed the Reds have returned to the Italian side with a bid in the region of £35million, and the former Chelsea winger is expected to join the Anfield club upon agreeing personal terms.

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