Virgil van Dijk set his sights on helping Liverpool “achieve something special” after a world-record deal for the centre-back was agreed with Southampton.
The Holland international will officially move to Anfield on January 1 in a transfer that is understood to be worth £75million, the highest price ever paid for a defender.
The deal will eclipse the £54million spent by Manchester City to sign England full-back Kyle Walker from Tottenham during the summer and sees a protracted saga reach its end.
Van Dijk said: “Delighted and honoured to have agreed to become a Liverpool FC player. Today is a proud day for me and my family as I join one of the biggest clubs in world football.”
In a message on his Twitter page, where he posed with a Liverpool shirt, he added: “I can’t wait to pull on the famous red shirt for the first time in front of the Kop and will give everything I have to try and help this great club achieve something special in the years to come.”
Van Dijk handed in a transfer request before the start of the new season, making it clear he wanted Southampton to take up the interest from Liverpool.
The Reds had issued a public apology in June for “any misunderstanding” following suggestions of an improper approach for the centre-back.
The 26-year-old trained on his own before being reintegrated into Southampton’s first-team squad as he recovered from an ankle injury. He made his first appearance of the season as a late substitute in the 1-0 win at Crystal Palace on September 16.
Van Dijk, though, now has his focus firmly on helping the Reds achieve their targets over the closing months of the campaign – with Jurgen Klopp’s side currently fourth in the Premier League following the 5-0 trashing of bottom club Swansea on Boxing Day.
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher believes the record fee will prove money well spent if Van Dijk helps the Reds to more success.
“Rio Ferdinand went to Manchester United, for I think just over £30million, but he repaid that. He was Manchester United’s top centre-back, won trophies and was there for 10 years,” Carragher said on Sky Sports.
“That’s what Van Dijk has to do – take Liverpool to trophies and be Liverpool’s main, number one, centre-back for the next decade or so.”
— Virgil van Dijk (@VirgilvDijk) December 27, 2017
Liverpool and Southampton both issued statements at 6pm on Wednesday to confirm the deal had been brokered.
Southampton said the transfer “will set a new world-record for a defender”.
Van Dijk joined Southampton during September 2015 from Celtic, who are set to receive a hefty seven-figure sell-on fee.
The Dutchman added in his Twitter post that he would “always be indebted” to Southampton for giving him the chance of Premier League football.
“Despite a difficult last few months, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Saints and have made friends for life at the club. Thank you for everything,” Van Dijk wrote.