Chelsea & Man United battle to sign a top Premier League defender in January [Times]

Jose Mourinho & Antonio Conte
Jose Mourinho & Antonio Conte

Chelsea v Man United

The Times bring Chelsea and Man United together in a transfer piece on Thursday, reporting that both clubs are trying to sign a top Premier League defender in January.

From Antonio Conte’s point of view, it seems that the Italian wants to boost his options at back, and, in particular, find a long-term replacement for John Terry who turned 36 this week.

United, meanwhile, seem to be in more urgent need of quality at the back who can step into the team right now. Remember, Eric Bailly, who has just returned from injury, is set to leave Old Trafford for a month in January to compete in AFCON 2017.

So who is the target?

The player being targeted is Southampton’s Dutch international Virgil van Dijk.

While the centre-half agreed a six-year deal when he moved to St Mary’s from Celtic last season, it’s widely understood that Van Dijk has an exit clause.

This week, Dutch paper De Telegraaf announced that Van Dijk may have a £25 million release clause in his Southampton contract, while the Times have today reported:

Southampton are set for another difficult transfer window with Chelsea ready to rival Manchester United for the signature of Virgil van Dijk.

Aside from Van Dijk, Southampton’s other centre-half, Jose Fonte, also seems to be headed for the exit door on the south coast after he posted the following on Instagram this week.

Just to set the record straight I did NOT reject a new contract, in fact I have been informed by Southampton that they are NOT offering me a new contract. My focus is on Thursday helping us win the game! #wemarchon

A photo posted by JOSE FONTE (@f6nte) on