In Focus: 21-year-old defender holds key to Chelsea winning Van Dijk race

According to reports in The Sun, Chelsea are ready to offer Andreas Christensen as part of a deal to sign in-demand Southampton centre-back Virgil van Dijk this summer.

What’s the word, then?

Well, the Blues – along with Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool and Everton – are said to be keen on signing the £50m-rated Saints defender this summer.

The south coast outfit appear to have accepted that the Dutchman – who has been out of action since January because of injury, and is set to sit out the rest of the campaign – will leave St Mary’s this summer and now they must get the best possible deal.

The west London outfit are said to have offered 21-year-old Christensen as a sweetener in the deal and it could put Antonio Conte’s men in pole position to sign the 25-year-old.

Would selling Christensen be the right decision?

It’s difficult to say.

Chelsea are said to be keen on bringing the Denmark international back to Stamford Bridge this summer following two successful seasons on loan at Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach, but it was thought that he would be competing with the likes of Gary Cahill and David Luiz for a spot at centre-back.

However, the latest rumour suggests that Conte would rather have Van Dijk, which has thrown Christensen’s future at Stamford Bridge into doubt.

How good can Van Dijk be for Chelsea?

In the past two seasons Van Dijk has established himself as one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League and winning the race for his signature this summer would certainly be a big statement of intent by the Blues.

Strong in the air and comfortable in possession and bringing the ball out of defence, Van Dijk would fit in perfectly at Stamford Bridge and has the ability to be one of the first names on the teamsheet.

What’s the verdict, then?

With Southampton looking to get the best deal they can, money plus the arrival of a highly-rated young defender will certainly suit them, while a move to the likely Premier League champions and opportunity to play Champions League football next season would be the next step in Van Dijk’s career.