Liverpool are reportedly close to agreeing to a deal with Southampton in signing their defender Virgil van Dijk in January.

According to the Sunday World via the Irish Independent, the Reds have made a breakthrough in talks with the Saints over the 26-year-old. The South Coast club slapped a £70m ($93.6m) asking price for Van Dijk as he continues to attract interest.

The Dutch international was a transfer target for the Merseyside club in the summer. Apart from the Reds, Manchester City and Chelsea were looking to secure the centre-back's signature before the start of the season.

Liverpool were believed to have won the race for his signature, but were forced to end any interest in the player after the South Coast club reported them to the Premier League for the alleged illegal approach in landing Van Dijk. The Anfield outfit even issued a public apology for any "misunderstanding."

Southampton star remains a priority target for Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. It is believed the Saints are close to reaching an agreement with the Reds over a structured deal, where the latter will not pay the fee in one lump sum.

Guardiola's side and Chelsea are still believed to be interested in signing Van Dijk. In addition to this, La Liga leaders Barcelona are also in the race for the Dutchman. The Catalan club have identified him as a transfer target.

The Sunday World reports that unless City and the Premier League winners decide to meet Southampton's £70m asking price, Van Dijk will be able to seal a move to Anfield after the end of this calendar year.

Van Dijk's potential arrival in the mid-season transfer window will be welcome by Klopp, despite the former Borussia Dortmund manager insisting that he is unlikely to bring in a defender in the mid-season transfer window.

He remained as an unused substitute in Southampton's 1-0 defeat to Chelsea, while was dropped from the squad in his side's 1-1 draw against Huddersfield Town. The Saints manager Mauricio Pellegrino admitted that he is aware of the speculation surrounding Van Dijk's future.

"I decided that was best for this moment. This is the reason. I am responsible for picking 11 players, and I intend to pick the best for the team," Pellegrino explained, as quoted by the Liverpool Echo.

"Around him will be a lot of speculation and we have to wait to see what happens. Van Dijk's future? I don't know, we'll have to wait, but I will repeat, there will be a lot of speculation around him. We have to wait."

Virgil van Dijk
Virgil van Dijk is reportedly keen on joining Liverpool Getty