LONDON • Virgil van Dijk has told Liverpool that he wants to join them this summer as Southampton reported the Merseyside club to the Premier League over an alleged illegal approach.
Liverpool are yet to formally approach the Saints to ask for permission to speak to van Dijk, reported the BBC. But they want to open transfer negotiations over a deal for the defender that could cost up to £60 million (S$106 million).
Southampton maintain that van Dijk is not for sale. However, Liverpool are ready to break their transfer record and make the 25-year-old the highest-paid player at the club by offering him a contract of about £200,000 a week, while also paying a world-record fee for a centre back.
That record is held by David Luiz, who Chelsea sold to Paris Saint-Germain for £50 million in 2015.
Van Dijk has also been of interest to Chelsea and Manchester City, but believes that the next stage of his career should be spent under Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool.
His decision has come as a particular blow to Premier League champions Chelsea, who identified him for the position on the left of their three-man defence that was occupied by Gary Cahill last season.
Van Dijk signed a new six-year contract last year, having joined Southampton from Celtic for £13 million in September 2015.
£152m Amount of money that would flow from Liverpool to Southampton since 2014 if Virgil van Dijk heads to Anfield for £60 million (S$106 million).
The Netherlands international believes Liverpool can emerge as genuine title contenders next season, and his responsibility will be to improve a defence that conceded 42 goals last season.
The club's presence in the Champions League next season was also a key factor.
Liverpool, who have signed Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Nathaniel Clyne, Sadio Mane and Rickie Lambert from St Mary's since 2014, are determined to get the deal done.
If successful, van Dijk will smash the £35 million club transfer record Liverpool paid to Newcastle in 2011 for striker Andy Carroll.
Roma's Mohamed Salah and Naby Keita of Leipzig, are among Klopp's other targets.
THE TIMES, LONDON