Manchester City are closing in on a £60 million deal for Southampton centre-half Virgil van Dijk.

The runaway Premier League leaders have made the recruitment of Van Dijk their priority in next month’s transfer window and are increasingly confident of landing the Holland defender ahead of rivals Chelsea and Liverpool and Barcelona in Spain.

City are in talks with Southampton over a transfer, with the South Coast club now prepared to cash in on the 26-year-old, who is contracted at St Mary’s until June 2022.

Pep Guardiola tried and failed to sign a centre-half in the summer when West Bromwich Albion rejected a £21 million bid for Northern Ireland defender Jonny Evans and City were unable to offload Eliaquim Mangala.

But Vincent Kompany’s persistent injury problems have left the league leaders light in central defence and that situation has been exacerbated in recent weeks after John Stones was sidelined by a hamstring injury.