Jurgen Klopp confident of beating Pep Guardiola in race for 26-year-old dream target

Liverpool are confident of beating Chelsea and Manchester City to a world-record transfer move for Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk, reports say.

Van Dijk has not played in Southampton’s last three games amid speculation the Dutch defender is set to leave St Mary’s during the January transfer window.

He was strongly linked with a move to a host of clubs last summer and even handed in an official transfer request in a bid to force his way out.

Southampton stood firm and were able to keep hold of Van Dijk but are now resigned to losing their star man next month with Liverpool, Chelsea and City circling. But, according to the Daily Mirror, the Saints are demanding £70million – a world-record fee for a defender – to part ways with the Netherlands international.

Premier League leaders Manchester City and reigning champions Chelsea are keen to secure his services but it is claimed Liverpool are privately confident he wants to move to Anfield.

The Reds were willing to pay £65m for Van Dijk last summer but were forced to back off and issue an official apology after being accused of tapping-up offences. Arsenal were also in the race to sign the 26-year-old but are believed to have taken a step back.

After Van Dijk missed consecutive Premier League clashes, Southampton boss Mauricio Pellegrino said: ‘I have to decide what’s best for the team and around Virgil there has been a lot of speculation. ‘The manager decides what is the best. We win, draw and lose, with and without Virgil. We have to wait until January. I can’t control the market so we’ll see what happens.’