As per reports in the English press this afternoon, La Liga giants Barcelona are ready to battle Liverpool for the signature of Southampton central defender Virgil Van Dijk.
Van Dijk, who enjoyed a stellar campaign last season to establish himself as one of the Premier League’s most in-demand defenders, made no secret of his desire to move on from Southampton during the summer transfer window, with the Dutchman having gone as far as to hand in an official transfer request.
However, the board at St. Mary’s remained adamant all summer that they would not be willing to part ways with their crown jewel for any less than his reported £50 million+ price-tag.
In the end, neither of the 26-year-old’s main suitors, Chelsea or Liverpool, were prepared to fork out such a massive sum, with Van Dijk left with no option but to remain at St Mary’s for at least the first-half of the 2017/18 season.
However, while the Dutch stopper has stayed with the Saints for the time being, he is still widely expected to move on in the near future, whether it be in January or next summer.
Liverpool were again expected to be the main suitors for his signature, but, as per a growing number of reports today, the Reds may well have to fend off competition from Spanish giants Barcelona, if they do intend to secure their no.1 defensive target.
This is because Van Dijk has been touted as a genuine option for the Blaugrana upon the opening of the winter transfer market in January, with manager Ernesto Valverde reportedly pushing the club to provide him with further defensive options.
The Catalan outfit currently rely heavily on the partnership of Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti, with Javier Mascherano, who’s preferred role is in midfield, first in line to step in for either of the aforementioned pair.
Barca are said to see Van Dijk as the ideal solution, with the Southampton man long known for his abilities on the ball, a key characteristic for any player at the Camp Nou.