Antonio Conte hints Chelsea wanted to make move for Virgil van Dijk

Swiss defender in Saints' sights

And the Italian has confirmed Van Dijk was a player he advised his board to sign but they decided he was not worth the £75m shelled out by Liverpool.

Securing Akanji's signature may not be an easy task but Southampton should do all they can to make this transfer happen.

Liverpool announced the signing of Van Dijk shortly before the start of the January transfer window, stealing a march on Manchester City and Chelsea, who had both been widely linked with a move for the 26-year-old last summer and in the winter market.

While many football fans believe the Reds overpaid for the Dutchman, the truth is they probably had to.

Robson told The Game podcast that the 6ft 3in defender is too reliant on his physical attributes to get out of trouble and may not be the answer to Jürgen Klopp's side's defensive problems.

And it seems Liverpool simply blew Chelsea out of the water with their bid.

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On Tuesday, manager Antonio Conte admitted that Chelsea had tried to beat Liverpool to the player, without success.

"This is football. This is life". We can have a lot of targets but you must be able to reach those targets. "The transfer market is not simple for any club", according to Sky Sports.

"But Liverpool bought Van Dijk to reinforce his defensive line, and I think Van Dijk is a top defender", he added.

Big things are expected of van Dijk and his massive price-tag will do nothing to dampen expectations, but after a year hampered by injuries and speculation over his future, he's got the drive to get back to best - and push beyond it.

First, he changed his profile picture and published the kind of boilerplate statement heard from players when they join a new club. And he's already started paying back that money after he scored the victor against Everton in the FA Cup on his debut.