Liverpool are ready to provide Chelsea a tough competition in the race to sign Virgil van Dijk, if the Dutch defender decides to leave Southampton in the summer.
According to reports from the Evening Standard, both Chelsea and Liverpool are in the market to sign at least one top centre-back, and Van Dijk is at the top of their wish-lists.
Last December, Claude Puel denied reports that Van Dijk had a £25m release clause in his contract. The Saints would demand a transfer fee in the region of £50m, the amount Manchester City paid Everton to sign John Stones last summer.
Van Dijk joined Southampton from Celtic in 2015, and quickly established himself as one of the finest defenders in the Premier League.
The 25-year-old has signed a new contract last year that runs till 2022, which leaves Southampton in a strong negotiating position.
The report suggests that the defender would be open to leaving St Mary’s for a top Premier League club if he is given permission.
Liverpool’s hope of signing Van Dijk could rest on whether they qualify for Champions League next season. Jurgen Klopp’s team are currently fourth in the Premier League, four points ahead of Manchester United.
In recent years, Liverpool have signed several players from Southampton, with the likes of Sadio Mane, Adam Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne and Dejan Lovren all moving to the Merseyside club on big money transfers. Will Van Dijk be the latest player to follow that trend?