Everton, Newcastle battle for Groningen defender Virgil van Dijk

Everton and Newcastle United are chasing Groningen defender Virgil van Dijk.

Everton and Newcastle United are chasing Groningen defender Virgil van Dijk.

The Mirror says Groningen’s decision to let Van Dijk talk to ­English clubs will spark a hotly contested race that Everton and ­Newcastle currently lead.

Both clubs considered January bids for the 21-year-old centre-back and have maintained a strong interest by having the player regularly watched. Swansea, Southampton, Reading and even Manchester United have also scouted Van Dijk over the past year.

Liverpool could enter the bidding, with ­manager Brendan Rodgers in the market for new defenders at the end of the season and looking closely at the Dutch market.

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