Liverpool and Manchester United poised for Van Dijk transfer tussle

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Liverpool and Manchester United could be on course for a titanic tug-of-war over Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk.

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An impressive start to his time on the south coast has seen the 25-year-old centre-back draw plaudits from a range of sources, including Saints manager Claude Puel, who recently said that the ex-Celtic player has the potential to become of the best in the world in his position.

And with the north-west rivals both in the market for a new central defender, the Dutch international has emerged as a key target for respective managers Jurgen Klopp and Jose Mourinho.

Liverpool boss Klopp is thought to be particularly keen on van Dijk’s all-round ability as a defender, with the Daily Express one of a host of papers to claim that the Anfield club are prepared to offer up to £40 million for his services.

As it stands, Merseyside appears his most likely destination, as the well-travelled route between Southampton and Liverpool has already seen the likes of Adam Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne and Rickie Lambert swap the Saints for the Reds.

Fierce rivals Manchester United are also credited with an interest, although their pursuit of a new centre-back partner for Eric Bailly has also seen Jose Mourinho sound out van Dijk’s partner at Southampton, Jose Fonte, as another potential option.

Reports suggest that Saints chiefs are growing increasingly resigned to losing their star man as the vultures begin to circle, but recently Puel suggested that it would be best for the player to continue his footballing education at St Mary’s in the short-term.

“Van Dijk is a great player now,” he told reporters. “But he has a contract with Southampton and it is important he stays to continue his work.

“I enjoy Virgil for his work and he has developed very well since the beginning of the season with extra responsibilities and physically and technically.

“He must become one of the best five or six defenders in the world. He has the capacity. It is important he continues with stability and Southampton is a good club for him.”


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