Kop get their Van

> Liver­pool land ‘hon­oured’ Van Dijk in world record deal for de­fender

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

4. Gareth Bale, Tot­ten­ham to Real Madrid, 2013, £85.3m 6. Gon­zalo Higuain, Napoli to Ju­ven­tus, 2016, £75.3m = Vir­gil van Dijk, Southamp­ton to Liver­pool, 2018, £75m 10. James Ro­driguez, Monaco to Real Madrid, 2014, £63m

LIVER­POOL signed Southamp­ton’s Vir­gil van Dijk yes­ter­day for a re­ported £75 mil­lion (RM410.45m) in a deal that makes him the world’s most ex­pen­sive de­fender. Van Dijk has been linked with a move to Liver­pool for sev­eral months and the An­field club were forced to is­sue an apol­ogy af­ter an al­leged il­le­gal ap­proach for the Nether­lands in­ter­na­tional ear­lier this year. Reds boss Jur­gen Klopp has re­mained de­ter­mined to sign Van Dijk as he tries to shore up a leaky de­fence that has fa­tally dam­aged Liver­pool’s Premier League ti­tle am­bi­tions. “De­lighted and hon­oured to have agreed to be­come a Liver­pool FC player,” Van Dijk wrote on Twitter, along­side a photo of him with a Liver­pool shirt. “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.” Al­though Chelsea and Manch­ester City were said to be in­ter­ested in Van Dijk, Klopp has fi­nally got his man on weekly wages of £180,000 (RM985,000). “Liver­pool Foot­ball Club can con­firm they have reached an agree­ment with Southamp­ton for the trans­fer of Vir­gil van Dijk,” a state­ment on the club’s web­site said. “The Reds have agreed a deal with the south coast club, and the player him­self, that will see the 26year-old de­fender move to An­field when the trans­fer win­dow re-opens on Jan­uary 1, 2018.” The pre­vi­ous world record trans­fer for a de­fender was the £54 mil­lion (RM295.53m) Manch­ester City paid Tot­ten­ham for Eng­land right­back Kyle Walker in the close sea­son.

Saints con­firmed that Liver­pool’s offer had shat­tered the record, but didn’t re­veal the ex­act fee.

A fee of £75 mil­lion would also be level with Romelu Lukaku as the sec­ond most ex­pen­sive trans­fer in Premier League his­tory, be­hind only Manch­ester United’s £90 mil­lion (RM492.54m) pur­chase of Paul Pogba.

Van Dijk, who moved to Southamp­ton from Celtic in 2015, was left out at the start of the sea­son by new Saints man­ager Mauri­cio Pel­le­grino af­ter hav­ing a trans­fer re­quest re­jected.

The 26-year-old re­turned to the team but with spec­u­la­tion mount­ing about a Jan­uary move, he was dropped for Southamp­ton’s re­cent matches against Chelsea, Hud­der­s­field and Tot­ten­ham.

Van Dijk was keen to part ways on good terms, prais­ing Southamp­ton for let­ting him shine in the Premier League for the first time.

“I will al­ways be in­debted to the club for giv­ing me the op­por­tu­nity to play in the Premier League,” he wrote.

“De­spite a dif­fi­cult last few months, I have thor­oughly en­joyed my time at Saints and have made friends for life at the club. Thank you for ev­ery­thing.”

Van Dijk’s ar­rival at An­field gives Klopp the de­fen­sive pres­ence he hopes can trans­form a Liver­pool back four that has con­ceded 23 goals in 20 league games – more than any of their top-six ri­vals ex­cept Arse­nal.

Liver­pool had of­fered around £60 mil­lion (RM328.36m) for the de­fender in the close-sea­son and for­mer Manch­ester United star Gary Neville ques­tioned whether he will prove worth the ex­tra in­vest­ment.

“It is a lot of money and I’m not even sure he has been play­ing that well,” Neville told Sky Sports.

“What can I say is Liver­pool need de­fend­ers. They have to pay to get him and that’s the way the mar­ket is.”

Van Dijk could make his de­but in the FA Cup third-round tie against Ever­ton on Jan­uary 5 af­ter be­com­ing the latest player to move from Southamp­ton to Liver­pool.– AFP

– Gary Neville on Vir­gil van Dijk trans­fer to Liver­pool 1. Ney­mar, Barcelona to Paris Saint-Ger­main, 2017, £200.6 mil­lion 3. Paul Pogba, Ju­ven­tus to Manch­ester United, 2016, £89m 5. Cris­tiano Ron­aldo, Man United to Real Madrid, 2009, £80m 7. Romelu Lukaku, Ever­ton to Man United, 2017, £75m 9. Luis Suarez, Liver­pool to Barcelona, 2014, £65m

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