Arsenal and Manchester City both appear to have stolen a march on their Premier League rivals in the race for highly-coveted Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk, if the latest gossip is to be believed.
Van Dijk, who the Saints are thought to value at around £50m, has been heavily linked with Liverpool, Everton and even Chelsea before now. But, according to the Daily Star, the Dutchman’s representatives have actually spoken to both the Gunners and City first.
Pep Guardiola has plenty of rebuilding to do at the Etihad Stadium this summer and the speculation is that 25-year-old Van Dijk would arrive in Manchester as the long-term replacement for injury-prone City captain Vincent Kompany.
The sky blues haven’t had the best of luck with central defenders in recent years, with Eliaquim Mangala, currently on loan at Valencia, and Nicolas Otamendi both flattering to deceive after £30m moves. John Stones has also struggled under the burden of his £47m price tag.
Signing Van Dijk should remove the gamble given his proven Premier League quality.
Arsenal would stand to benefit just as much. The Gunners spent £35m on Shkodran Mustafi last summer but still occasionally lack defensive strength and leadership.
Van Dijk was recently identified by former Arsenal star Sol Campbell as an individual who would ‘make the difference’ were he to make the switch to the Emirates Stadium.
It comes as rumours in France once more link Laurent Koscielny with a move to City. Telefoot claims that Marseille are also interested in the 31-year-old as they look to mount a Ligue 1 title challenge next season. Marseille were linked with Olivier Giroud as well.