Chelsea are optimistic of being able to secure a deal for Southampton defender Virgil Van Dijk.
That’s according to a report in the Evening Standard, which claims that the Premier League champions believe that the Saints would rather sell the Holland international to them than to Liverpool.
Southampton are desperate not to lose the centre-back this Summer, but he is continuing to refuse to play for them as he aims to secure a transfer to Anfield before the end of the month.
Chelsea, who are long term admirers of the Dutchman, are putting together a package worth an initial £50m to Southampton with additional fees dependent on his success at Stamford Bridge.
Van Dijk is determined to leave St Mary’s for Anfield, but Chelsea are quietly confident that Southampton would rather sell to them than see another star player move to Liverpool.
Southampton have already accused the Reds of making an “illegal approach” for the ex-Celtic man and have resolved not to negotiate with them – and that is why Liverpool have not made an offer yet.
Liverpool are waiting for Southampton to give them the go ahead to make a bid and are not looking to rock the boat following the accusations of tapping up Van Dijk.
And Chelsea know that if they make an opening offer for Van Dijk, Liverpool are likely to at least match it and would be in pole position thanks to Van Dijk’s preference to move to Anfield.
It could come down to Van Dijk holding his nerve and refusing to talk to Chelsea if an offer from them is accepted while any bids from Liverpool are turned down.
But Chelsea believe that an opportunity to move to Stamford Bridge to play for the Premier League winners in the Champions League would be too tempting to refuse.