Southampton have reportedly slapped a whopping £70million price tag on highly sought-after defender Virgil Van Dijk.
According to a report by The Sun, the Saints are prepared to play hard-to-get in order to keep Virgil Van Dijk considering he only signed a new six-year contract last summer.
While it does seem like every club in the Premier League is vying to sign the former Celtic ace – Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United included – Chelsea and Manchester City have emerged as the front runners in inking a deal with Southampton.
The Dutchman is currently in recovery mode after missing the final four months of the Premier League due to an ankle injury, even as big clubs line up to sign him.
He enjoyed a solid first campaign with Southampton as he tried to fill the void left behind by Toby Alderweireld. In fact, his range of passing is almost on par with Alderweireld. To have that amount of composure alongside physical strength, speed and defensive awareness all in one package is a catch.
It was his electrifying performances this season that established him as one of the best, even if he did succumb to that injury towards the end.
Van Dijk is easily one of the most coveted defenders in the transfer window this time. No other defender in the division wins more duels in the air per game and he has the highest percentage of success in overall tussles at 73 percent.
It might seem a bit strange as to how so many big clubs want to sign him despite his injury. However, the Southampton captain, in general, has no underlying issues or any concerning treatment history, and his current spell on the sidelines is the longest in his career to date.
This season has also seen the emergence of the back-three as every manager scrambled to assemble a formidable back line with three defenders.
While Antonio Conte made that popular, Mauricio Pochettino approached it to some success. Even Pep Guardiola and Arsene Wenger resorted to that style. Doing so has only increased the demand for top-class centre-backs and Van Dijk is capable of improving both Chelsea and Manchester City.
As far as Chelsea are concerned, they will greatly benefit from Van Dijk’s aerial prowess. Cesar Azpilicueta is brilliant in other areas but he does not have that natural height to be strong aerially. At six foot four, the Dutch international is superb in the air and would add to the height in both boxes.
Manchester City, on the other hand, have recently worked on pressing the opposition in their own half, and that means they need a centre-back who is adept aerially but can also play accurate passes, long and short. Van Dijk, yet again, fits the profile.
However, with Van Dijk’s price bumped up, it remains to be seen which club will actually shell out the extra cash. Whoever does sign him, will reap the benefits since he is a classy yet versatile defender who can add to any team’s powers.