One news outlet has dropped a hint as to the likelihood of Romeo Lavia featuring for Southampton in their opening game of the new season amid Liverpool’s ongoing pursuit of the player.
Earlier this week, the Saints rejected a second bid from Anfield for the 19-year-old, believed to be worth £41m (Daily Mail), and Belgian journalist Sacha Tavolieri has suggested on Twitter that the Reds could soon go back with an improved offer.
The teenager has featured in five matches for Russell Martin’s side in pre-season, albeit mostly as a substitute (Sofascore), and a lot of eyes will be on the team sheet for Friday night’s Championship clash against Sheffield Wednesday.
In previewing the game, Hampshire Live claimed that both Lavia and James Ward-Prowse are ‘set to be included’ in the matchday squad at least, despite transfer bids being submitted for the midfield duo in recent days.
However, a separate article from the news outlet omitted the Belgium international from a predicted Southampton starting XI for the Hillsborough fixture, saying that ‘Martin would gain little in the long-term from starting him against the Owls’.
When a player is being linked with a transfer as intensely as Lavia has been of late, fans of the clubs involved will look for any little clue as to whether or not a move is likely to materialise, so Liverpool supporters could be taking a keen interest in the team named by Martin tomorrow night.
If the 19-year-old is left out of the squad entirely, that could fuel speculation as to the probability of a departure from Southampton, as otherwise it’d be most unusual for a £50m-valued player to be omitted for a Championship fixture if he’s available.
The Saints manager has praised the Belgian, along with other exit-linked teammates, for their application in pre-season, although he admitted to being uncertain as to whether or not the midfielder would still be at the club by the end of the transfer window (Liverpool Echo).
Martin has continued to use Lavia in pre-season amid all the speculation over his future, so it seems likely that the teenager will at least be in the matchday squad against Sheffield Wednesday.
The Southampton team sheet will be awaited with intrigue not just by their own fans when it’s announced roughly an hour prior to kick-off at Hillsborough.