Liverpool have broken the world record for a defender by ousting Manchester City to wrap up the signing of Virgil van Dijk from Southampton in a £75 million deal.
The centre-back, who has remained Jurgen Klopp’s priority target since the summer and opted to move to Anfield back then as well, will officially join Liverpool on January 1.
Negotiations speedily progressed between the sides after a long process of the Reds repairing the relationship with their counterparts following a tapping-up saga in June that drew a public apology and the Saints refusing to sanction his sale.
With the Netherlands international underperforming at St. Mary’s and seemingly going through the motions this season, Mauricio Pellegrino admitted that the club’s hardline stance may have not been the wisest action.
“We tried to do the best for the team,” he said this week. “The board decided to try to keep our best player at the club. This situation is a big learning curve for everybody and now we decide what is the best for the club.”
Van Dijk sat out Southampton’s last three matches and a fast resolution suited all parties.
He underwent a medical with Liverpool on Wednesday and beyond becoming the most expensive rearguard purchase in history, also represents their biggest outlay on a player.
Pep Guardiola had been confident of adding the 26-year-old to his high-flying squad when the winter window opened, but he rejected City’s pursuit for a second occasion.
Van Dijk is set to earn £180,000 a week on Merseyside and will wear the No.4 shirt, which he “cannot wait to pull on for the first time.”
Klopp’s loyalty to the player – he refused to settle on an alternative option in the summer – as well as his long-term vision was enough to convince the Dutch ace that Anfield was still the optimum choice.