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Chelsea join the fight for signature of highly sought-after Southampton defender — report

Crystal Palace v Southampton - Premier League Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

According to The Times, Chelsea are now in the chase for the signature of Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk. The Blues join Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Everton in pursuit of the player.

The 25-year-old joined Saints from Scottish club Celtic on a £13 million transfer in September 2015. He quickly inserted himself into Southampton's starting eleven at centre back, becoming one of the Premier League's best defenders in his debut season. His performances were rewarded with a new six-year contract in May 2016.

Van Dijk's current deal is believed to have a £25 million release clause included, according to a report from the Daily Mirror.

While he’s thus become a supposed transfer target for Chelsea and others, his current manager, Claude Puel believes Van Dijk should continue his development at St. Mary's Stadium...

"Van Dijk is a great player now. But he has a contract with Southampton and it is important he stays to continue his work. He must become one of the best five or six defenders in the world. He has the capacity. It is important he continues with stability and Southampton is a good club for him."

-Claude Puel; source: Daily Express

...while former Blues player Ray Wilkins sees Van Dijk as an ideal player for Conte.

"Van Dijk has had a fantastic time since he has come down Celtic, almost looked a little bit of a snip for what Southampton got him for. He has improved and he looks a very good defender."

"He would bring on the youngsters coming through as well because he is excellent on the communication side of stuff. He would be a perfect fit [for Chelsea]."

-Ray Wilkins; source: Talksport via Daily Express

Signing Van Dijk for a price as low as £25 million given the current market trends would be a steal for any club who can afford his signature. And even though our back line hasn't given us major problems in the last two months, Chelsea would be greatly served with an upgrade like him to the squad.

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