Virgil van Dijk is set to become the world’s most expensive defender after Liverpool agreed a £75 million deal with Southampton to secure his services in January.
The Netherlands international was heavily linked with a move to Anfield during the off-season, but the Reds were accused of making an illegal approach and made a formal apology to the Saints.
Van Dijk remained on the south coast, although his performances dipped under new manager Mauricio Pellegrino, who has struggled to get the best out of his players.
The 26-year-old was left out of Pellegrino’s squad for the Boxing Day clash with Tottenham, prompting speculation over his exit, and both clubs have now confirmed a deal will go through when the transfer window opens on Monday.
“Delighted and honoured to have agreed to become a Liverpool FC player!” the Dutchman, who will wear the No 4 shirt, wrote on Instagram. “Today is a proud day for me and my family as I join one of the biggest clubs in world football!
“I can’t wait to pull on the famous red shirt for the first time in front of the Kop and will give everything I have to try and help this great club achieve something special in the years to come.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Les Reed, the board, manager, players, fans and everyone at Southampton.
“I will always be indebted to the club for giving me the opportunity to play in the Premier League and despite a difficult last few months I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Saints and have made friends for life at the club.”
The fee for Van Dijk is the highest ever paid for a defender, and also a record amount for the Reds, topping the £48m release clause they have agreed for RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita, who will move to Anfield next summer.
Van Dijk will officially join his new club on January 1, but will only be able to register as a player a day later, meaning he will not be available for Liverpool’s match at Burnley on Monday.
Reaction to the new deal on social media was mixed, with some Reds fans welcoming the move and other fans questioning the whopping £75m price tag:
— Spiller (@SpillerSly_LFC) December 27, 2017
£75,000,000 for a defender! pic.twitter.com/1NacLvSJhe
— Guardiolista (@BlueCitizen007) December 27, 2017