Manchester City are close to securing the signing of Southampton centre-back Virgil van Dijk in a £60million deal, James Ducker of the Telegraph reports.
Pep Guardiola has made the signing of 26-year-old Van Dijk his main priority in January, with City increasingly confident of beating Liverpool, Chelsea and Barcelona to his signature.
According to the Telegraph, City have entered negotiations with Saints chiefs who are now willing to cash in on their most valuable asset.
City attempted to sign a centre-back in the summer, but a move for West Brom captain Jonny Evans collapsed when Eliaquim Mangala’s proposed deadline day move to Crystal Palace fell through.
Evans remains an alternative target, along with Inigo Martinez of Real Sociedad, and should the Van Dijk deal hit complications, either of the two could be pursued during the January transfer window.
Vincent Kompany’s persistent injury problems have often left City short on numbers in the centre of defence, and when John Stones was ruled out for six weeks, there was the risk of a crisis at the back. However, largely thanks to the excellent form of Nicolas Otamendi and some solid performances by Mangala, the Blues’ back line held up.
The arrival of Van Dijk would come with an added benefit, as he is eligible to play in the Champions League and could be registered for the knockout phase, with City due to play FC Basel next year in the Round of 16.
At 6’4″, Van Dijk would bring more height to a team which isn’t the tallest, and his ball-playing ability is well known. He would initially arrive as third-choice behind the proven pair of Stones and Otamendi, but Guardiola believes he has the quality to become a long-standing addition to the side.
Chelsea and Liverpool are also very keen on signing the Dutch international, but as it stands City appear to be in pole position.