Liverpool Transfer News: Latest Rumours on Moussa Dembele and Virgil van Dijk

Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistDecember 11, 2016

Celtic's French striker Moussa Dembele celebrates scoring the equalizer from the penalty spot during the UEFA Champions league Group C football match between Borussia Moenchengladbach and Celtic in Moenchengladbach, western Germany on November 1, 2016. / AFP / PATRIK STOLLARZ        (Photo credit should read PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images)
PATRIK STOLLARZ/Getty Images

Liverpool are reportedly in pole position to land Celtic forward Moussa Dembele, but Manchester City are entering the race as major competition for his signature. Meanwhile, the Reds may face losing Virgil van Dijk to rivals Everton.

Paul Hetherington of the Daily Star on Sunday reported Liverpool and Arsenal lead the pursuit, although City hold a trump card in the form of Celtic Park loanee Patrick Roberts. 

Roberts is spending the 2016/17 campaign with the Bhoys, and it's suggested Celtic's chances of taking the youngster for another season would be improved by selling Dembele to the Citizens.

Dembele joined the Scottish champions for a paltry £500,000 in June, per the Daily Record's Alan Clark. Celtic chief and former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers dubbed him the signing of the season in an interview with BT Sport:

Rodgers may find it especially difficult to sell the starlet to his former club and Reds boss Jurgen Klopp, who is set to lose Senegal international Sadio Mane for a period when the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations kicks off in January.

However, the Celtic manager has also taken a realistic approach to Dembele's future, and while he conceded in an interview with TalkSport that a move may not be far off, it's unlikely to happen during the winter transfer window (h/t Sun's George Boulton):

No, I don’t think it will be January. At Celtic, you know how it is. We know how it is. If we get a really talented player there’s probably a cycle of a couple of years with them.

You look at the examples of Wanyama, Van Dijk, and Ki – they have all come up here and it’s a great platform for them to demonstrate their qualities but then the likelihood is they get a better offer, financially, and they move down south.

With Moussa, I think that was always going to be the case. The difference now with Celtic is that Moussa doesn’t need to go to, with all due respect, to a bottom-end Premier League team, because he’s playing for a big club in front of 60,000 fans a week.

Elsewhere, the Mirror's Simon Mullock reported Everton are the favourites to land Van Dijk after he left his agent to team up with Wasserman Group—the same company that represents Toffees boss Ronald Koeman.

That business move has intensified speculation as to whether Van Dijk is planning a reunion with his compatriot and former Southampton boss, although Squawka's Greg Johnson has deemed it the wrong choice:

Klopp could once again enter the market for a central defender in the new year after hardly making use of summer signing Ragnar Klavan this season and with Mamadou Sakho's future with the team still in serious doubt.

Van Dijk has established himself as one of the strongest central defenders in the Premier League this term. The Netherlands international recently cast a sad figure when expressing his disappointment at Southampton's UEFA Europa League exit to BT Sport:

The Dutchman has yet to miss a minute of the Saints' Premier League campaign, and they have kept five clean sheets and conceded just 15 goals in 14 games—the joint-third-lowest tally in the division.

Southampton manager Claude Puel would be at odds to replace the former Groningen and Celtic totem, but Van Dijk's latest career move could suggest a reunion with Koeman is only so far away.