Liverpool appear to have edged ahead in the race for in-demand Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk as the player has indicated he prefers a move to Anfield.
It is understood the centre-back has made his feelings on his future clear and has chosen Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool ahead of interest from Premier League champions Chelsea and Manchester City.
However, a deal is a long way from being completed as the Reds have yet to make a bid for the player, with Saints expected to demand a world-record fee for a defender in excess of £50million. That would smash Liverpool’s existing record transfer, the £35million they paid for Andy Carroll.
Liverpool have refused to comment on the speculation surrounding the player and their interest in him.
But it is understood Van Dijk is Klopp’s primary transfer target this summer and would be willing to offer a lucrative financial package, potentially making him the highest-paid player at the club, to secure the defender.
The chance to work with Klopp is believed to have been a significant factor in Van Dijk’s decision, despite similar opportunities being available with Pep Guardiola and Antonio Conte.
Van Dijk missed the second half of last season with an ankle ligament injury but has impressed since his move to England from Celtic in September 2015 for £11.5million.
Klopp is understood to want the Holland international to bring some authority and presence to his back four having struggled in that area this season.