By Wayne Veysey

20th May, 2017 | 4:28pm

Times: Klopp readies strong Liverpool sales pitch on Sunday, fee will be world-record for a defender

By Harry Sykes

Liverpool will make a strong push to sign Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk if they beat Middlesbrough on Sunday, according to a report.

The Times claim the Merseyside giants are preparing to go big to land Van Dijk if they are successful in securing the top-four Premier League finish that will guarantee a place in the Champions League for next season.

It is said that Liverpool are one of five elite Premier League clubs to have already enquired about signing the Holland international, along with Arsenal, Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs.

The Times report that Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group will hand manager Jurgen Klopp the biggest transfer kitty in the club’s history this summer to strengthen the playing squad.

Klopp is preparing to follow up victory over Middlesbrough with a “strong sales pitch” to Van Dijk, “who will cost a world-record fee for a centre back of £50million-plus.”

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This comes after recent reports that the Merseyside giants have already reached a verbal agreement with the in-demand 25-year-old if they secure a top-four Premier League finish.

Liverpool are seemingly happy to meet smash the club-record £38million fee they paid for Sadio Mane last summer in order to seal the deal for Van Dijk.

The defender has been absent in the second half of this season after suffering an ankle injury that has sidelined him since late January.

But he has made a huge impact at St Mary’s Stadium and is widely regarded as one of the outstanding centre-backs in the Premier League.

Van Dijk has made 68 appearances for Southampton after a similarly successful spell at Celtic, where he played a mammoth 115 matches in just two seasons.

Liverpool have prised a vast number of players from the Saints in the last three years, with Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Nathaniel Clyne, Rickie Lambert joining Mane in making the well-trodden journey to Anfield.

In other Liverpool news, Klopp is confident of signing the next Gareth Bale for a bargain price of just £10million as the deal of the summer edges closer.

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