Liverpool’s pursuit of Romeo Lavia may have just become a whole lot more complicated on Wednesday night, when a major curveball was thrown.
As reported by David Ornstein for The Athletic late last night, Chelsea submitted a £48m offer to Southampton for the midfielder, with dialogue ongoing between the two clubs.
That figure is higher than any of the three bids the Reds have made so far, with the latest of those (amounting to £46m) being rejected by the Saints earlier this week as they continue to hold out for £50m.
Liverpool consider that figure to be excessive for a player of Lavia’s inexperience, with the Belgian having just one season of regular senior football to his name (Transfermarkt).
🚨 Southampton have tonight received offer from Chelsea for Romeo Lavia. #CFC proposal £48m inc adds. Closest anyone has come to #SaintsFC £50m valuation to date. 19yo subject to multiple rejected bids from Liverpool. Dialogue continues @TheAthleticFC #LFC https://t.co/zPoConhzoL
— David Ornstein (@David_Ornstein) August 9, 2023
This is the news that every Liverpool fan will have been dreading, with the Reds’ staggered efforts to get a deal done now at risk of being blown out of the water by a statement swoop from Stamford Bridge.
Even if the Anfield hierarchy feel that Lavia is overpriced at £50m, it’s long since been made clear that’s the going rate in this market for a defensive midfielder deemed to have the quality to play for a Champions League-contending club.
The risk of paying what LFC perceive to be over the odds for the 19-year-old must be weighted against the risk of losing out on him to a direct positional rival and not having enough time to pursue an alternative of a similar standard before the transfer window closes 22 days from now.
Chelsea have shown repeatedly during Todd Boehly’s stewardship that they’re OK with spending whatever’s necessary to ensure they get the players they want. It hasn’t always worked, that’s for sure, but at least it shows intent to not let other clubs get the jump on them.
By contrast, Liverpool’s frugal approach has often left them and their fans frustrated, with Gary Neville highlighting on The Overlap this week how FSG have been ‘shocked’ by seeing reported Anfield targets Enzo Fernandez, Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice moving elsewhere for £100m+.
The one advantage the Reds might have is that they’re much further along in negotiations for Lavia than the west London side, while the player’s preference is reportedly a move to Merseyside (Sacha Tavolieri).
However, unless LFC respond swiftly and go in with an offer which takes them to (or beyond) that magical £50m mark, this long-running pursuit now looks as if it could blow up in their face and give their opponents on Sunday a major psychological win prior to the teams’ season opener.