BRENDAN RODGERS is set for a late Christmas present worth £7million after Southampton agreed to sell Virgil van Dijk to Liverpool in what will be a world record transfer for a defender.
The Dutchman, who spent two seasons at Parkhead, will cost the Anfield side £70m and his former club are due ten percent of that fee.
Indeed, if Manchester City make a late bid for Van Dijk, as predicted by former Rangers manager Graeme Souness, then that figure may rise even further if a bidding war begins for the 26-year-old.
What is clear, however, is Southampton have accepted that the classy centre-half will move in the next transfer window and Liverpool have always been the player’s preferred choice.
An expected move to Anfield in August collapsed amidst suggestions that Liverpool acted unethically in their chase of the Holland international.
Van Dijk cost Celtic £2.6m when they signed him from Breda. He moved to Southampton for £12.m and when his next moves goes through, he will have made the Scottish champions almost £20m.
Rodgers is looking to strengthen in the window. Defender Marvin Compper has arrived and at least one more player, probably an attacker, will be added to the squad.
Celtic’s 3-0 win over Aberdeen put them eight points ahead of the second placed Pittodrie side and despite his side dropping more points than they did in the whole of last season, the manager is relaxed about where his team find themselves.
Rodgers said: “I think we were 19 points in front going into the break last year. I am not going to cry if we’re not but if we get into a position where we have a double-digit lead then I think the players would deserve a huge amount of credit.
“Whatever the lead is, to play the number of games we have and to do so at such an intensity, it’s been really phenomenal.”
And Rodgers played down the suggestion that his team had been ‘found out’ after their 4-0 loss at Hearts.
He said: “We have faced everything. When we lost to Hearts, it was because Hearts deserved to win the game. There was loads of stuff, the pitch was awful, but the thing was it was us.
“We weren’t very good on the day, either collectively or individually. But over the course of 71 games now, we have faced everything.
“There have been team such as Aberdeen who want to press us, who are a good team, Rangers have tried to press us, teams have sat deep, we’ve been to Astroturf pitches and teams have pressed us on that.
“We haven’t been good in some games, we have been very good games, so over this run Hearts weren’t the first time team to have tried to press us.
“We’ve had it a number of times. That day, we just couldn’t find the solution.
“It is a tribute to these players of how they got over that disappointment. That’s the job of the manager and coaching staff to tell them that we go again. Aberdeen pressed well which is why they got a result like the win over Hibs.
“But we score most of our goals from 60-90 minutes because physically and technically the team is in a good condition.
“We always have to improve and we will do in the second half of the season.”