A Dutch newspaper claims Liverpool – and Manchester City – have had a scout at every Southampton match for the past two months in order to scout centre-back Virgil van Dijk.
The 25-year-old, who signed for Southampton for £13 million from Celtic a year and a half ago, is seen by many Liverpool supporters as the ideal long-term partner for Joel Matip.
Both Van Dijk and Matip stand at 6’4″ and both are composed, calm centre-backs – something that was badly missing in defeat at Bournemouth on Sunday.
According to De Telegraaf – as reported by Sporting Witness – both Liverpool and City are prepared to make a move for the Netherlands international in January – with a £25 million release fee having been reported in one Sunday newspaper this past weekend.
£25 million would be cheap for a player who signed a six-year deal only six months ago and is widely viewed as one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League – and is just £5 million more than what Liverpool paid Southampton for Dejan Lovren in 2014.
Whether that release clause is indeed true, or active for this winter’s transfer window, remains to be seen.
That City are reportedly interested in Van Dijk is a worry, with the Manchester club no doubt able to offer bigger wages than Liverpool would be willing.
Bizarrely, Everton are also linked with a move for Van Dijk, with Ronald Koeman having been in charge when the player signed for Southampton from Celtic.
With Chelsea also potentially interested, Liverpool will face a fight for Van Dijk if they do make a move, but it might well be one worth pursuing as it could be all the difference in the title race this season.
News today that Joel Matip could yet head to the AFCON in January may well heighten Liverpool’s need for a centre-back in January.
Last week, Saints boss Claude Puel attempted to quell speculation over his star defender, saying: “It’s just speculation, and I cannot participate with speculation.”
Perhaps Liverpool could offer Mamadou Sakho as part of any deal, even if it were on loan for the second half of the season until Southampton sign a permanent replacement in the summer.