Liverpool ready to challenge Chelsea and Man City for the signature of £50m star

LIVERPOOL are ready to challenge Chelsea and Manchester City for the signature of Virgil van Dijk, as the race to sign the Southampton defender continues to intensify.

Jurgen Klopp has identified van Dijk as his favoured option as he looks to bolster his defence this summer and with Liverpool’s prospects of securing Champions League football growing their hopes of being in a position to compete for the best available talent are also rising.

Champions elect Chelsea are long time admirers of van Dijk, but Antonio Conte also has an interest in Leonardo Bonucci of Juventus and Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly, centre backs who also figure prominently on Pep Guadiola’s shortlist at Manchester City.

Real Madrid are monitoring Van Dijk’s situation at Southampton with Pepe expected to leave this summer, while Ronald Koeman also covets the Holland international but is aware that he will be facing an uphill battle to convince van Dijk to move to Goodison Park unless Everton are able to offer him Champions League football.

Southampton are resigned to the likelihood that this will be van Dijk’s final season at St Mary’s and value the 25-year-old at around £50 million but Claude Puel’s interest in Mamadou Sakho, who is currently on loan at Crystal Palace, could strengthen Liverpool’s hand.

Klopp intends to strengthen the spine of his team this summer and is also in the market for a top class midfielder with Naby Keita, Red Bull Leipzig’s much coveted Guinea international who is represented by the same agent as Sadio Mane, the subject of strong interest from Liverpool.