In Brief

Southampton accuse Liverpool of 'tapping up' Virgil van Dijk

Jurgen Klopp reportedly held an unauthorised meeting with defender in Blackpool - latest Liverpool transfer news and gossip

Southampton are "ready to go to war" with Liverpool, claims the Daily Mirror after the South Coast club accused the Reds of tapping up defender Virgil van Dijk about a £60m move to Anfield.

The two clubs have done a good bit of business over the years with Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Sadio Mane and Nathaniel Clyne all moving from St Mary's to Anfield.

But it seems that this time Liverpool have gone too far, and the Mirror says the Saints are hopping mad over Jurgen Klopp's attempts to lure Van Dijk north.

Apparently the Dutch international "was flown to Blackpool for a meeting with Klopp" as the German sought to persuade the central defender to leave Southampton. Since that initial, unauthorised, meeting with Van Dijk it's alleged that Klopp has "messaged him regularly" as Liverpool sought to see off competition from Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal.

While the 25-year-old Van Dijk is open to the idea of moving to Anfield, Southampton will veto such a move out of what the Mirror describes as "a point of principle". A Premier League spokesman confirmed that Southampton "have raised some concerns and we are in turn raising them with Liverpool."

If the FA rules that the Reds have made an illegal approach to Van Dijk, then they could face a similar punishment to that of Chelsea when they courted Arsenal defender Ashley Cole a decade ago. On that occasion the Blues were handed a £300,000 fine and suspended three points deduction.

However, the Liverpool Echo is hopeful that the row will blow over and the defender will sign for the Reds this summer.

It claims Southampton's anger "could all, of course, be simply part of the selling club keeping their own fans happy and ensuring they play hard ball for the best possible price if they are to let a prized asset leave St Mary's".

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