Manchester City have emerged as frontrunners to complete a deal for Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk in January beating the likes of Barcelona, Liverpool and Chelsea in the process.

The Telegraph reports that a deal worth £60m ($80m) is on the horizon as Pep Guardiola looks to keep nothing to chance as he looks to extend their unbeaten run in the Premier League and end the season with a record haul of points. City are in advanced talks with the Saints over a transfer, with the South Coast club now prepared to cash in on the 26-year-old, who is contracted at St Mary's until June 2022.

The report comes hot in the wake of news that Liverpool are reportedly close to agreeing to a deal with Southampton in signing the defender, according to the Sunday World via the Irish Independent.

Guardiola's hand has been forced by an injury to John Stones and the persistent problems to Vincent Kompany, who has struggled to put together a run of games. City have already tried and failed to complete a deal for Jonny Evans in the summer but Guardiola believes Van Dijk has the quality to become an important long-standing addition as the club chase a Premier League and Champions League double.

The Dutchman had been heavily linked with a move to Liverpool in the summer but a move fell through as Southampton put their foot down. The Reds have rekindled their interest in January but latest reports suggest that City are overwhelming favourites for his signature.

Van Dijk made no secret of his desire to swap Hampshire for Merseyside last summer and submitted a transfer request as he attempted to push through a deal. However, his request was instantly rejected by the Saints, who forced Van Dijk to train away from Mauricio Pellegrino's first team for the remainder of the transfer window.

The Dutchman has fallen out of favour at the St.Mary's in recent times due to a loss of form, 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.

Virgil van Dijk
Southampton's Virgil van Dijk is linked with a move to Liverpool and Manchester City in January Getty