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 international, Southampton announced on Wednesday 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 Anfield.
The 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 hoped to join Juergen Klopp’s Liverpool in August after handing in a transfer request but Southampton stood its ground. Van Dijk, though, will gain the new challenge he had been seeking on Monday.
“I will always be indebted to the club for giving me the opportunity to play in the Premier League and despite a difficult last few months I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Saints and have made friends for life at the club,” Van Dijk said. “Thank you for everything.”
Liverpool is fourth in the Premier League, 17 points behind leader Man City, but the five-time European champions are through to the Champions League last 16 where they will play Porto in February.