Amid Liverpool’s ongoing pursuit of Romeo Lavia, Southampton’s chief executive has insisted that the Championship club won’t sell themselves short when it comes to cashing in on their most valuable assets.
The Saints have already rejected two bids from Anfield for the 19-year-old, the latest of which was £41m, as they continue to seek a minimum of £50m for him despite losing their Premier League status earlier this year.
Speaking to BBC Radio Solent prior to their season-opening 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday on Friday night, Phil Parsons had a strong message for any club with designs on a raid of St Mary’s for key players from Russell Martin’s squad.
The Southampton CEO said: “We’ve got 30-plus players and we don’t need 30-plus players. We’re actually in a position to make sure the finances balance out quite well and you do get hit being relegated.
“We can trim the squad, we can sell assets if we want to. We won’t be selling assets on the cheap. That’s why we stood firm on a few.
“We will develop a lot of players over the coming years and there will be players who gone on to join top-four clubs but we won’t be doing it at a cheap rate, we will be doing it at the going rate. If clubs want to place offers, we will look at them. We won’t be saying just yes to any offer through the door.”
Parsons added: “Southampton is a great club and if you do well for Southampton and deserve a move, maybe we’ll look at it but let’s focus on Southampton first and doing well and then we’ll talk about other clubs second.”
The Saints are well within their rights to demand whatever they think their players are worth, particularly when their clear objective is to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
They looked very slick in their win over the Owls on Friday, a result which seems all the more impressive when considering that Lavia had no part to play at Hillsborough.
In what could come as substantial encouragement to Liverpool, the Belgian remained on the bench for the entire 90+ minutes against Sheffield Wednesday.
There was no mention before or after the game of the teenager having an injury, so it’s hard to imagine any other plausible reason for Martin declining to utilise a £50m-rated player other than the context of a prospective move to another club.
If Southampton get another wins under their belt without using Lavia, the manager might take the view that his team will do just fine without the 19-year-old, which in turn could give the Reds added hope of finally luring him to Anfield.
With 26 days to go until the transfer window shuts, this long-running saga will soon reach a conclusion one way or another.