In a world where World Cup-winning midfielder Alexis Mac Allister can be bought for £35m, there is no way on planet Earth Liverpool should shell out an extra £15m to sign Romeo Lavia, he of one single relegated Premier League season.
Last week, Melissa Reddy of Sky Sports told us Southampton are confident of receiving £50m for 19-year-old Lavia, with Liverpool, Chelsea, and Arsenal all keen on the talented youngster.
£50m, even in this day and age, is a huge sum. More than Mac Allister, but a similar sum to that Manchester United paid for Champions League-winning England international Mason Mount, or Newcastle for Serie A-winning Italy international Sandro Tonali. It’s £10m more than relegated James Maddison, who joined Spurs for £40m, having scored 28 goals from midfield in the past two seasons.
Lavia did well in a very bad team. But his team still lost and he is still very raw. On the final day of the season, he literally passed the ball to Diogo Jota to score in our bizarre 4-4 draw at St. Mary’s. Imagine the fallout had Jordan Henderson or Fabinho made such a horrible error.
He is definitely a promising midfielder, but £50m should be the price-tag if he maximizes his potential, not the fee after he’s relegated in his first full season. Liverpool don’t want to pay it and rightly so; it’s farcical.
This might seem overly harsh on a teenager, but I’m just not sure he fits the profile of the long-term Fabinho replacement. Lavia is not tall and is currently poor in the air, meaning he would struggle to win any aerial duels in that crucial deep-lying midfield spot. His ability to win the ball is impressive and he’s got nice feet, but £50m? Not yet, especially given we’ve got Stefan Bajcetic coming through who is just as talented.
Transfer journalist Fabrizio Romano has hinted that unless Southampton drop the asking price, Liverpool may be tempted into moving elsewhere.
“Romeo Lavia – At the moment this is still not something imminent,” Romano told CaughtOffside.
“Liverpool are discussing internally about Lavia, no official bid has been submitted yet. And also no decision has been made on the price.
“So, Lavia remains on the Reds’ list, and, honestly, I think Lavia would be a fantastic signing. He’s a top talent, it’s not easy to find that kind of player on the market, so I don’t know if they have alternatives at this stage.”
It might well be that the Lavia interest is a smokescreen for another midfield target. We kept on hearing about Kephren Thuram until Dominic Szoboszlai was signed a few days after hearing his name mentioned – which is often the case with Liverpool transfers. The endless sagas never come off (Jude Bellingham), but Cody Gakpo, Luis Diaz and Szoboszlai come straight through the door, seemingly without any hassle.
Having signed two attacking midfielders for the advanced no.8 roles, it’s definitely an anchorman we need; someone to support Trent Alexander-Arnold in the double-pivot. Fabinho, Henderson, Bajcetic, and Thiago are options for this position, so we’re not understaffed here, but the four in question are either over the hill or at the bottom of it.
Instead of another midfielder, it’s defence where we really need a new player, especially given the emergence of Curtis Jones as a genuine starting option. Virgil van Dijk is aging and there are doubts surrounding Joel Matip and Joe Gomez, while Trent sees himself in midfield going forward – and rightly so.
Levi Colwill has been named a target and according to 90min, Jurgen Klopp reckons he can lure the Chelsea centre-back to Anfield.
Obviously, Chelsea will ask an astronomical fee for a young English prospect they want to keep, which is within their right. Colwill was arguably England’s best player at the U21 Euros just gone and given the prices they’ve sold players they wanted to sell this summer, you can only imagine the sum required to buy the 20-year-old.
Colwill though has only made 17 career Premier League starts, so surely Liverpool cannot fork out anything above £40m for someone with so little experience – although Chelsea insist the player isn’t for sale anyway.
We do need a centre-back, but we need to move more smartly to find some value in the market.
Liverpool have spent £95m so far on two players, but if that was our work for the summer done, we’d still be very undercooked at the back. In an ideal world, a versatile defender and a young anchorman sign before August, but it’s quite right that the Reds and sporting director Jorge Schmadtke are not being held to ransom by selling clubs chancing it.