Florin Gardos

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.

Tuesday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Ibrahimovic to Arsenal, Manchester United

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The main rumor doing the rounds on Tuesday is that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is interesting both Arsenal and Manchester United, with the Paris Saint-Germain heading towards the exit door at the Parc des Princes.

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According to the Daily Mail Ibrahimovic, 33, is allowed to leave PSG on a cut-price deal after the acquisition of Angel di Maria has somewhat clustered the forward line of the reigning two-time French champions. Ibra has fueled plenty of speculation this summer about his own future, saying that his next move will “be a very big surprise” and also leaving the door open for opportunities in Major League Soccer. With both Arsenal and United seemingly short in options up top, could the eccentric Swedish international striker add all of his big-game experience to one of the Premier League title contenders?

Multiple outlets, including the Daily Star, are reporting that Southampton have tied up a deal for Napoli center back Kalidou Koulibaly. The French defender, 24, made 37 appearances for the Serie A side last season after joining from Belgian club RKC Genk, and Saints are desperate for reinforcements at the back after losing 3-0 to Everton at the weekend. With Toby Alderweireld chosing to joins Spurs instead of a permanent move to Saints this summer, and injuries to Florin Gardos and new signing Steven Caulker, manager Ronald Koeman hasn’t been hiding the fact that he wants to sign a new center back. Is Koulibaly the man? Or will Southampton wait for Virgil van Dijk as Celtic continue their UEFA Champions League qualifying campaign and will not talk about a move for the Dutchman until they know whether or not they are in the group stages.

Norwich City are looking at bringing in Italian forward Mattia Destro from As Roma on a season-long loan. The Times reports that the Canaries have earmarked a new striker as their main priority before the transfer window slams shut, and a move for Destro would be a good short-term solution for both parties. Destro, 24, has fallen by the wayside in recent months despite having a burgeoning reputation throughout Europe. Two seasons ago he scored 13 times for Roma but after joining AC Milan on loan last season following a lack of minutes under Rudi Garcia’s stewardship, the Italian international is looking to revive his career. Can the former Chelsea target boost Norwich’s survival hopes? Alex Neil’s side have created plenty of chances in their opening two games and could definitely do with a helping hand in attack.

Southampton to sign Chelsea’s Oriol Romeu on permanent deal

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Southampton is expected to announce the signing of Chelsea midfielder Oriol Romeu later on Wednesday.

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The 23-year-old Spaniard joined the Blues from Barcelona in 2011 but has made just 33 appearances for the west London club and has been loaned out by Jose Mourinho to Valencia and VFB Stuttgart in the past two seasons.

Sources have confirmed to ProSoccerTalk that the move for Romeu is close to being completed and it will be on a permanent transfer to St Mary’s.

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Romeu has been very unlucky with injuries during his Chelsea career and while he was on loan at Valencia as the defensive midfielder put in plenty of promising displays under Roberto Di Matteo during his time at Stamford Bridge. However, when Mourinho returned Romeu was not in his plans and he will now get the chance to stay in the PL and flourish with Southampton. He cost Chelsea $7.5 million in 2011, and they can expect to recoup most of that fee for the Spanish U-23 international.

Barcelona legend Ronald Koeman is in charge of Saints, and his influence in the imminent signing of the Catalan-born player should not be underestimated. Romeu will arrive to compete with Jordy Clasie and Victor Wanyama for the two holding midfield spots and with a Europa League playoff coming up against Danish side FC Midtjylland next week, he would add plenty of depth to a squad that needs bolstering if Saints are to continue their surge up the PL standings.

Interestingly, Romeu has played as a center back in the past and with Saints seeking reinforcements in that area following a season-ending injury to Florin Gardos and losing out on signing Toby Alderweireld permanently this season, he could slot in there when needed. However, it would be surprising if he lined up at center back for Koeman’s men alongside Jose Fonte as Southampton is still said to be interested in Celtic’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk.