Virgil van Dijk’s protracted move from Southampton to Liverpool has been completed, with the reported £75million fee a world record for a defender.
The Netherlands international was on the brink of joining the Merseyside club at the start of the season only for the transfer to fall through after the Reds were accused of making an alleged illegal approach.
Liverpool issued an apology to Southampton over the incident and the deal has been revived, with Van Dijk signing a contract for an undisclosed length of time that commences from January 1.
Although the exact details of the transfer have not been announced, Saints confirmed the fee “will set a new world record for a defender”.
“Delighted and honoured to have agreed to become a Liverpool FC player!” Van Dijk posted on Instagram. “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.”
Manchester City were reported to be preparing a £60m move for Van Dijk, but the Reds have beaten the Premier League leaders to his signature.
Van Dijk previously handed in a transfer request in a bid to force a move to Liverpool, leading to then-Southampton manager Claude Puel exiling the defender from first-team action.
The 26-year-old has been on the sidelines again of late, with Puel’s successor Mauricio Pellegrino opting not to use the centre-back amid speculation over his future.
Van Dijk was absent as Southampton were battered 5-2 by Tottenham at Wembley on Boxing Day and he has not played since Saints’ December 13 defeat to Leicester City.
The arrival of the Dutchman will boost Liverpool’s defence, which has come in for heavy criticism and conceded 23 Premier League goals this season, the joint-most of any side in the top six.
Van Dijk will also be available to play for Liverpool in their Champions League last-16 meeting with Porto in February as he has not played in the competition this season.