Reports: Arsenal in talks to sign Liverpool's top target Virgil van Dijk
What's the story?
Arsenal face an uphill challenge this season, as they will face the dual challenge of competing in the UEFA Europa League while also mounting a challenge for the English Premier League.
The Gunners finished outside of the top 4 for the first time in nearly two decades, and were subsequently relegated to the UEFA Europa League, which many believe is the most grueling European competition. Arsene Wenger will have his hands full this season and would like to hire reinforcements for the forthcoming season.
The North London club have now reportedly averted their gaze towards Southampton's wantaway star Virgil van Dijk, as per the Daily Express.
In case you didn't know...
Van Dijk has fallen out of favour with the Southampton hierarchy and is almost certain to depart the club by the end of the ongoing summer transfer window, after handing in an official transfer request.
The 26-year old was initially touted to make a switch to Liverpool. However, Jurgen Klopp is believed to have gotten carried away and had contacted the player without permission from the Saints, which led to Liverpool being issued warnings.
The Merseyside club later cooled their interest to avoid punishment for tapping up the defender.
The heart of the matter
With just a week until deadline day, Van Dijk will be keen to complete a move soon despite the club claiming that he'll be going nowhere. The Dutchman is believed to be growing increasingly frustrated and is desperate to leave.
Liverpool's reluctance to approach the Dutch has prompted Arsenal to emerge as new favourites to sign Van Dijk. With Gabriel Paulista gone, and Inter Milan lurking for Shkodran Mustafi, Wenger is in dire need of a first-team centre back and could go all out for the Saints' defender.
Latest reports suggest that Arsenal have, in fact, met with Van Dijk and his representatives to try and push a deal through before the culmination of the window. Southampton seem to be holding a firm stance on the matter, but could let the defender go if they receive an offer that matches their valuation of the former Celtic man.
As things stand, Van Dijk refuses to train with the team and trains on his own, in solitude. The procurement of defender Wesley Hoedt could also soften the Saints' stance, and could see Van Dijk leave for an expected fee of £50 million.
The 26-year old has made a name for himself during his time at Southampton. The unsettled Dutchman has garnered a lot of attention from top clubs after announcing his intentions.
While Arsenal may be leading the race, it would be naive to believe that Liverpool have completely given up their chase. Regardless of which side he joins, he will be a useful addition, capable of alleviating both managers' woes.
One thing is for sure though. The race for Van Dijk could boil right down to deadline day.