Southampton complete $17.6 million signing of Virgil van Dijk

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Virgil Van Dijk has become the most expensive defender in Southampton’s history.

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The Dutch center back, 24, signed on at St Mary’s from Scottish champions Celtic on Tuesday, with a fee of $17.6 million agreed between the two clubs.

A source close to the deal told ProSoccerTalk that the deal was expected to be wrapped up ahead of the 1 p.m. ET deadline and that was the case as Van Dijk signed a five-year deal with Southampton.

Van Dijk is said to have completed his medical in London on Monday, then traveled down to the South Coast on Tuesday to tie up all of the loose ends of his deal.

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The defender is someone Koeman has been tracking for quite some time and his flamboyant style and insistence to break out of the back and score goals — Van Dijk has scored 22 goals in 180 career games in Holland and Scotland — is reminiscent of his countryman and potential new manager. The likes of Arsenal and Manchester United have been linked with a move for him in the past but he has signed for Saints.

Both Koeman and Van Dijk played for Groningen in Holland, and the former will significantly strengthen a Southampton defense which lost Nathaniel Clyne to Liverpool this summer, while center back Toby Alderwerield decided to join Tottenham Hotspur instead of sign permanently for Saints after spending last season on loan at St Mary’s. Add into that a long-term injury to Romanian international Florin Gardos and a shaky start to the season which saw Saints concede five times in their opening two PL games and it was clear that Koeman wanted to bring in a new center back.

With captain Jose Fonte, Maya Yoshida, Steven Caulker and now the imminent arrival of Van Dijk, Southampton have four center backs who will all push each other for a starting role this season. Van Dijk and Fonte will likely be the two starters if Koeman persists with the 4-2-3-1 formation following their win over Norwich City on Sunday, but he has played with a three-man defense on plenty of occasions since taking over at Saints last summer.