With each passing day, it seems increasingly likely that Liverpool will make Romeo Lavia their third signing of the summer transfer window.
The Reds have seen a first offer of £37m rejected by Southampton but are expected to table a second bid (The Athletic), with Fabrizio Romano tweeting on Thursday that this could consist of £42.5m up front plus £2.5m in add-ons.
However, that’d still fall short of the £50m that the Saints are seeking for the 19-year-old, with details of the prospective deal set to be discussed further between the two clubs.
Chelsea remain hopeful of outbidding Liverpool for Lavia (Football Insider), but with Sacha Tavolieri and Mark Wyatt both suggesting that the Merseysiders could get their man in the coming days, the signs are good that the teenager will soon call Anfield his home.
We’ve spoken exclusively to Dan Hargraves (@DanJHargraves), journalist with Bristol Live and a lifelong Southampton supporter who frequently covered the Saints in the Premier League last season. He’s kindly shared his perspective on the midfielder amid his ongoing links with the Reds.
You regularly saw Romeo Lavia up close last season for Southampton. Just what kind of a player could Liverpool be getting (in terms of the qualities he brings) and do you think he has the quality to make an immediate impact in Jurgen Klopp’s side?
Romeo Lavia is a ball-winner. He’s known to sit deep just ahead of the back-four and plays almost that conductor role where he sets the tempo. It’s clear that he’s had a Manchester City education and why Pep Guardiola gave him a couple of opportunities for the first team.
At 19, Liverpool are potentially getting a player that could grow into a cult hero at Anfield. He plays with immense maturity for his age and proved last season that he is easily Premier League quality. I genuinely believe he’s exactly what the Liverpool midfield needs after major senior departures.
While many reporters are citing Liverpool as firm favourites to sign Lavia, Chelsea are also believed to be in the frame. We know that they’re not slow to throw money at signings, so out of those two clubs, which do you think Lavia is likelier to sign for?
I still think Liverpool will be his destination. It makes more sense with the likes of stalwarts like [Jordan] Henderson and Fabinho departing. The Reds’ midfield needs some new life and I think buying one of last season’s most talked-about midfielders, who still has bags of potential, makes perfect sense.
What’s the mood among the Southampton fan base among Lavia leaving? Is it one where they’re happy for him and feel he deserves a move, or is there a sense of him ‘abandoning’ the Saints for a club competing in the higher echelons of the Premier League?
I think had Southampton not been relegated then fans would be more aggrieved to lose Lavia but generally they all understand and know that £50m for a now-Championship club is a big deal. He will go with everyone’s best wishes.
£50m has often been reported as the Saints’ asking price, and they seem to be sticking rigidly to that figure, despite some reports that they might accept slightly less than that up-front if add-ons, bonuses, etc are taken into account? What do you think would be a fair price for Lavia, and how hard should the club fight to try and keep him?
£50m is absolutely a fair price for Lavia and it would’ve been more had Saints stayed up. You’re not only buying the player now but what he could grow into.
Saints will be making a significant profit on the deal but they don’t have to sell, meaning that they can demand a significant fee. If Liverpool don’t pay it, I’m sure Chelsea will because their interest dates back further.