Liverpool is breaking the world transfer record for a defender by signing Virgil van Dijk from Southampton in a $100 million move.
Following Liverpool’s long-running pursuit of the 26-year-old Netherlands center back, Southampton announced that it accepted the record fee ahead of the January transfer window opening.
“Delighted and honored to have agreed to become a Liverpool FC player,” Van Dijk wrote on Instagram alongside a picture holding a jersey of the club he will join on Jan. 1. “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.”
The transfer fee of 70 million pounds ($94 million) could reach 75 million pounds ($100 million) depending on Van Dijk’s achievements at Liverpool.
The scale of the investment signals Liverpool’s determination to plug leaks in the defense that have seen the team fall 17 points behind leader Manchester City into fourth place in the English Premier League.
Liverpool is devastating going forward, with the “Fab Four” attack of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah helping the team amass a 46-goal haul that only City has eclipsed.
But Juergen Klopp’s team has conceded 23 goals in 20 games more than any rival in the top five including three in last week’s 3-3 draw at Arsenal after a two-goal lead was thrown away.
The Van Dijk deal eclipses the previous highest amounts paid for defenders who are rarely in contention for the top awards in football dominated by goal-scorers. English Premier League leader Manchester City paid around 50 million pounds each for Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker in the summer transfer window.
While Van Dijk becomes the world’s most expensive defender, Neymar still holds the title of the game’s costliest player after joining Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona for 222 million euros in August.
Van Dijk is joining a team fighting on three fronts. The FA Cup campaign opens next week with a Merseyside derby against Everton, and the Champions League resumes in February with a last-16 meeting with Porto.