Southampton F.C. have completed the signing of defender Virgil van Dijk from Scottish Premier League champions Celtic.
Van Dijk, 24, has put pen to paper on a five-year deal at St Mary’s, becoming the Saints’ eighth summer recruit following the arrivals of Cédric Soares, Cuco Martina, Jordy Clasie, Juanmi, Maarten Stekelenburg (on loan from Fulham), Oriol Romeu, and Steven Caulker (on loan from Queens Park Rangers).
The 24-year-old centre-back, who previously played with Dušan Tadić at FC Groningen (2011-12), will face competition from José Fonte, Maya Yoshida, and the aforementioned Steven Caulker for a place in Ronald Koeman’s starting XI.
“I’m delighted. It was a very easy decision to join this club,” Van Dijk told the club’s official website.
“This is a very ambitious club, who have been doing very well in the last couple of years. It’s a great place to be and it’s the right step for me.
“For me now to get the opportunity to play in the Premier League is unbelievable and I will enjoy it.
“I know it’s an ambitious club – they have been through a lot throughout the years. They are trying to play football and that’s something that really attracted me.
“I’m so excited. I hope to settle in really quick, get everything around football sorted, start playing and enjoying it because the most important thing in football is to have fun and enjoy every day.”
After a long and arduous negotiation process, the deal is finally done, much to the delight of Southampton executive director of football Les Reed.
Reed added: “We’re delighted to have finally got Virgil into the club after long and lengthy negotiations.
“We’ve had Virgil in our system for a long time and have explored the possibility of signing him in previous transfer windows, and this year we had a really strong opportunity to do it.
“The Champions League had an effect on the moment of release, which we were aware of, so it was about keeping our focus and doing our due diligence before eventually getting him over the line.
“He’s still a young man but a very mature young man who has played a very good level of football at Celtic and in Europe. He’s had an excellent upbringing and still has a lot of time ahead of him.
“Virgil has signed a long-term contract, so clearly sees a strong future here with us. He’s young, hungry and wants to prove himself.”
Van Dijk’s exit from Celtic Park will likely lead to a greater first-team opportunity for England Under-21 international defender Tyler Blackett, who joined Celtic on a season-long deal from Manchester United earlier this week.
Southampton are priced at 11/2 to achieve a top-6 finish in the English Premier League this season.
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