Liverpool land Van Dijk for record fee

Dec 27, 2017 - 8:49 PM Liverpool have broken the world transfer record for a defender by signing Virgil van Dijk from Southampton in a $100-million move.

Following Liverpool's long-running pursuit of the 26-year-old Netherlands centre back, Southampton announced on Wednesday they had accepted the record fee ahead of the January transfer window opening.

"Delighted and honoured to have agreed to become a Liverpool FC player," Van Dijk wrote on Instagram alongside a picture holding a jersey of the club he will join on January. 1.

"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."

The transfer fee of STG70 million pounds ($A120 million) could reach STG75 million pounds ($A129 million) depending on Van Dijk's achievements at Liverpool.

The scale of the investment signals Liverpool's determination to plug leaks in their defence that have seen them fall 17 points behind leaders Manchester City into fourth place in the English Premier League.

Liverpool are devastating going forward, with the "Fab Four" attack of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah helping the team amass a 46-goal haul that only City has eclipsed.

But Juergen Klopp's team has conceded 23 goals in 20 games - more than any rival in the top five - including three in last week's 3-3 draw at Arsenal after a two-goal lead was thrown away.

The Van Dijk deal eclipses the previous highest amounts paid for defenders who are rarely in contention for the top awards in football dominated by goalscorers. English Premier League leaders Manchester City paid around STG50 million pounds ($A86 million) each for Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker in the summer transfer window.

"There is a dearth of top-class centre backs throughout world football hence why so many clubs wanted (Van Dijk) and the transfer fee is so high," former Liverpool centre back Jamie Carragher told broadcaster Sky Sports. "People will look at the transfer (fee) that normally strikers go for, but as with any transfer fee if he performs well and does his job it will be worth it."

That, according to Carragher, will require Van Dijk helping the 18-time English champions end a trophy drought that stretches back to the 2012 League Cup.

Van Dijk, who joined Southampton from Celtic in 2015 for a reported STG13 million pounds ($A22 million), becomes the sixth player to join the Reds from the Saints after Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Sadio Mane, Dejan Lovren and Nathaniel Clyne.

Source: AAP

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