Liverpool tipped to beat Chelsea to the signing of proven 26-year-old defender

Former Man City defender Joleon Lescott is backing Liverpool to win the race to sign Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk

Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk Photo: Virgil van Dijk / Twitter

Liverpool will complete a deal to sign Virgil van Dijk ahead of Chelsea in the summer transfer window, Joleon Lescott has claimed.

The Reds have been linked with a move to sign the Netherlands international since the conclusion of the 2016-17 Premier League season.

Liverpool were forced to issue a statement apologising to Southampton about their pursuit of the 26-year-old defender.

Indeed, the Merseyside outfit officially pulled out of the race to sign the Dutch centre-half but transfer speculation has continued to swirl around the Southampton captain.

Van Dijk has also been named as a potential target for Premier League champions Antonio Conte after centre-halves Nathan Ake, John Terry and Kurt Zouma left the Blues in the transfer window.

The former Celtic man is training away from the rest of his team-mates and missed Southampton’s goalless stalemate with Swansea City on Saturday afternoon.

Former Everton and Manchester City defender Lescott believes Liverpool will win the race to sign the Southampton club captain.

“I’d imagine so, being a player of that calibre,” Lescott told Sky Sports News on Monday when asked if Van Dijk would interest Chelsea or Manchester City.

“If he’s available there is other top teams that are interested in him.

“But I think it was documented earlier in the window that he wanted to play for Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool.

“I’m sure if there is to be an agreement to be reached, I’m sure it’s going to be with Liverpool.”

Van Dijk has established himself as one of the Premier League’s best defenders over the past 24 months.

The Dutch centre-half missed the second half of the 2016-17 season with a serious knee injury.

Van Dijk moved to Southampton from SPL champions Celtic in a £15m deal back in 2015.

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