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Transfer Rater: Van Dijk to Liverpool

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Virgil van Dijk in Liverpool link: Why Klopp should move for Saints star

Liverpool are looking to sign a centre-half in the summer transfer window, sources have told ESPN FC, with Southampton's Virgil van Dijk reported to be a prime target for Jurgen Klopp.

A source has told ESPN FC that Liverpool have scouted the Netherlands international, but plenty of other top clubs around Europe have also been tracking the 25-year-old's progress.

Here's five reasons why Liverpool should sign Van Dijk this summer ...

1. It would be a statement signing

If Liverpool make an attempt to sign Van Dijk this summer, they are likely to be in competition with Manchester City and Chelsea, both of whom have greater resources than the Merseyside club.

Liverpool have missed out on plenty of transfer targets to European rivals in the past -- something that needs to stop if the Reds are to return to the top.

Van Dijk would not come cheap, but as Liverpool boasted after their recent financial accounts were published, they are the "only club in the top 10 of the Deloitte Football Money League that didn't play in the UEFA Champions League last season."

The resources are there for Liverpool to splash the cash on Van Dijk this summer. Whether they are able to remains to be seen due to the fierce competition for his signature.

2. Stability needed at the back

Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip have been a solid first choice centre-half partnership this season when they have both featured. However, that has not been the case nearly enough and the pairing have not been able to build up that consistency a back four needs.

Lovren and Matip have spent too much time on the sidelines for Klopp to consider both of them to be reliable options going forward.

Of course, their absences has not been the players' fault entirely. Lovren missed a game earlier in the season with a swollen black eye after a knock in training, while Matip was forced to miss to sit out two games as Liverpool were unsure of his eligibility during the African Nations Cup.

Van Dijk is set to miss the remainder of the 2016-17 season with a foot problem but the former Celtic defender has a relatively good injury record and should provide Klopp with that much-needed stability in defence.

Virgil van Dijk and Southampton might not crack the top six, but they're among the
Virgil van Dijk is one of the most sought after defenders in the Premier League.

3. Depth at centre-back

A new centre-half is a priority for Liverpool heading into the summer transfer window, with Klopp short of quality depth in the position.

Ragnar Klavan was brought in from Augsburg for £4.2 million last summer and was widely expected to be a backup option. But the 31-year-old has made 24 appearances this season.

The long-serving Lucas Leiva has been turned into a makeshift centre-half under Klopp, such has been Liverpool's lack of options in defence at times.

If Liverpool are to succeed in the Premier League and in European competition next season, they to improve at centre-back. Van Dijk would fit that bill.

4. Klopp is not a fan of Mamadou Sakho

Sakho may be excelling on loan at Crystal Palace, but it appears extremely unlikely that the Frenchman still has a future at Anfield.

Liverpool will look to capitalise on Sakho's fine form at Selhurst Park in the form of a hefty transfer fee in the summer, with no clause present in Palace's loan agreement to sign him on a permanent deal. Regardless, Sakho will need to be replaced should he leave in the summer.

Sakho could have been more than useful for Liverpool this season when options throughout the squad were severely limited, but the fact Klopp did not want him anywhere near the first team set-up speaks volumes.

Sakho has not played for the Reds in almost a year following numerous disciplinary issues. The Liverpool manager's actions with Sakho show that his team-first ethos comes before anything.

Mamadou Sakho is expected to leave Liverpool in the summer.

5. Van Dijk can help Klopp build Liverpool's spine

As proven at times this season, Liverpool's squad does contain some genuine world class quality.

In the final third you have Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, while in midfield Adam Lallana is at the top of his game.

Liverpool are halfway to having an impressive spine and signing Van Dijk could extend that even further. A reliable, elite goalkeeper would then be the missing piece of the jigsaw.

Successful teams in football all have one characteristic in common: A solid, talent-filled spine. Liverpool will need that if they are to end their Premier League drought any time soon.

Glenn is ESPN FC's Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.

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