By Wayne Veysey

21st Apr, 2017 | 5:04pm

Reliable journalist: Liverpool to spend big, man mountain tops shortlist

By Alex Stevens

Liverpool are preparing to spend big on a commanding defender this summer with Virgil van Dijk top of their target list, according to a reliable journalist.

Liverpool Echo correspondent James Pearce has claimed in his weekly column that the Merseyside giants are looking to reinforce the back line after identifying it as a weakness.

Pearce reports that Liverpool have been short of a centre-back after Mamadou Sakho fell out of favour with Jurgen Klopp to the point that he was frozen out of the squad and loaned out to Crystal Palace in the January window.

Klopp is keen to cash in on Sakho and hopes his impressive form at Palace will enable Liverpool to secure a £30million fee for the France international.

The sale would free up funds for a club-record signing that would exceed the £35million spent on Andy Carroll in 2011 and the £34million rising to £38million on Sadio Mane last summer.

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Pearce reports that Liverpool are one of a number of leading clubs in hot pursuit of Southampton defender Van Dijk.

The 6ft 4in man mountain is rated in the £50million bracket as a result of his performances for the Saints since joining from Celtic in the summer of 2015.

Van Dijk signed a Southampton contract last May that runs until the summer of 2022.

Liverpool’s current senior centre-backs are first choice pair Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip, backed up by Ragnar Klavan and converted defender Lucas Leiva.

In other Liverpool transfer news, the club are clear favourites to sign a world-class playmaker after a dramatic development.

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