Van Dijk wants move to Liverpool
Liverpool are set to win the race to sign Virgil van Dijk after being informed by the Southampton defender that Anfield is his preferred destination.
Jurgen Klopp had made the Dutch international a transfer priority having guided Liverpool into the Champions League play-offs but faced competition from the champions, Chelsea, and Manchester City for the 25-year-old's signature.
However, in what represents a major statement of intent from Liverpool and a big breakthrough for Klopp, the central defender has told his suitors and Southampton that he favours a move to Merseyside.
Liverpool have yet to agree a fee for Van Dijk but are willing to meet an asking price that may reach £60m for their main transfer target. They are also prepared to match City's offer of a contract worth around £200,000-a-week for the former Celtic and Groningen defender, who will become Liverpool's record signing and highest paid player once the deal is complete.
The Anfield club have refused to comment on Van Dijk's preference but will understandably regard his arrival as a significant development given the interest from Chelsea and Pep Guardiola's club. Talks are set to take place in the coming days with the champions and City unlikely to rival Liverpool's offer. Chelsea will be extremely disappointed to lose out on Van Dijk, whom they had targeted as the left-sided centre-half of choice in their back three.
Klopp is believed to be a factor in the Dutch international's decision with qualification for the Champions League - providing the play-off in August is successfully navigated - also crucial in swaying the defender towards Merseyside.
Klopp believes Liverpool can challenge for next season's Premier League title, saying: "I'm really optimistic for our future, not because I'm crazy but only because I know what we have, I know what we will get."