Barcelona have reportedly ramped up their interest in signing Virgil van Dijk and are set to battle Liverpool for the Southampton defender.
According to a report in Daily Mirror, Barcelona are weighing up a possible move for Virgil van Dijk after the club’s scouts watched him in action for the Netherlands in the international break. Liverpool are also interested in signing the Southampton defender after facing defeat in his pursuit in the summer.
Van Dijk is widely regarded as one of the best defenders in the Premier League after taking no time to establish himself as a pivotal figure for Southampton following a summer move from Celtic in 2015. His solid performances also helped him become the Saints’ captain following Jose Fonte’s departure earlier this year.
However, the Dutchman ended up burning a lot of bridges not soon after. As some of the best clubs in the Premier League starting chasing after him, the player refused to play for Southampton and handed a transfer request as well.
🗣 Barcelona are scouting Liverpool target Virgil van Dijk and may make a move for him in January (Mirror) pic.twitter.com/MmtYi9SD2m
— Anything Liverpool (@AnythingLFC_) October 15, 2017
The likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City were linked at some point or the other in the summer, but Liverpool remained in hot pursuit of van Dijk pretty much throughout the transfer window, albeit unsuccessfully so.
With the transfer saga ending in a whimper, van Dijk has reclaimed his place back in the Southampton first-team setup. But speculation has been rife that Liverpool will continue their pursuit of the player, either in January or next summer.
Indeed, the Reds’ defensive frailties leave a lot to be desired, with only five clubs conceding more goals than them at this early stage of the season. Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan have blown hot and cold throughout their stint at Anfield, which is why Jurgen Klopp is believed to have been eyeing Van Dijk as a more reliable solution.
However, Liverpool are now set to face stiff competition for the Dutchman in the form of Barcelona. The Blaugrana had scouts in attendance at the Amsterdam Arena last week to watch the unsettled defender in action, and are now weighing up a move for him.
Virgil van Dijk starts a home game for Southampton for the first time since 22nd January 2017.
Back in the fold. pic.twitter.com/V0eCRzAu1c
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 15, 2017
The Catalans have not exactly boasted a defence either in the recent times, even though the numbers may suggest differently so. The main concern lies around Gerard Pique who, at 30, is showing signs of slowing down and has looked error prone in the recent past.
With Javier Mascherano indicating that he is likely to call time on his spell at Barcelona soon, the need to sign a centre-back could accentuate for Ernesto Valverde, especially with Marlon Santos not deemed to be ready enough for regular first-team action yet.
Therefore, a move for van Dijk could be in the offing, with the aforementioned scouts sending glowing reports about the player. While Southampton are unwilling to sell the player, they would rather sell the 26-year-old to Barcelona than Liverpool, thanks to the strained relations between the two clubs.
The report suggests that the Saints will command a £50 million transfer fee for van Dijk, and it now remains to be seen if the figure poses any problems to either suitor, with Barcelona supposedly at an advantage in the pursuit as of now.