Liverpool and Southampton £15m apart over Romeo Lavia valuation

Romeo Lavia playing for Southampton in a pre-season friendly - Liverpool locked in talks with Southampton over £15m valuation difference of Romeo Lavia

Romeo Lavia impressed despite Southampton’s relegation last season – Reuters/Matthew Childs

Liverpool are continuing discussions with Southampton as they step up efforts to make Romeo Lavia their third midfield signing of the summer.

There is currently a significant difference between the clubs’ valuations of the teenager, with Southampton valuing the Belgian at £50 million. That is at least £15 million more than Liverpool have so far indicated they are willing to pay, but having established formal contact it is inevitable negotiations will continue. The player is understood to be eager to move to Anfield rather than start the season in the Championship.

Liverpool head on a Far East tour next week and Klopp would naturally rather his squad for the season ahead is finalised sooner rather than later.

Lavia was identified earlier in the transfer window as a potential long-term replacement for Fabinho as Liverpool’s number six. The imminent departure of the Brazilian – he is still expected to move to Saudi Arabia despite a delay in his £40 million move to Al-Ittihad – means there is more risk entrusting such a key role to such an inexperienced player.

Liverpool have considered several options since Fabinho and Jordan Henderson decided to hold talks with their respective Saudi clubs, much of the discussions focusing on the cost and availability of more senior players. However, this summer’s transfer market has been especially expensive with regards specialist midfielders, the fees for Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice – and £100 million valuation of Brighton and Hove Albion’s Moises Caicedo – indicative of the market.

Liverpool withdrew from the £115 million race to sign Bellingham from Borussia Dortmund, partly because they sensed he had already decided to join Real Madrid, and also because they were reluctant to buy one midfielder when they knew they needed at least three. If they pay the £50 million asking price for Lavia, the earlier deals for Alexis Mac Allister (£35 million) and Dominik Szoboszlai (£60 million) will mean they have signed three for £145 million. They will recoup £52 million once Fabinho and Henderson complete their transfers.

Liverpool know if they want Lavia, now is the time to move because from next summer his former club, Manchester City, can trigger a buy-back clause. Southampton are using that to their advantage to guarantee their valuation is met.

Chelsea are also known admirers, although they have been progressing with a deal for their first choice Caicedo.

Henderson, meanwhile, is expected to have his £12 million transfer to Al-Ettifaq confirmed shortly. The departing skipper will reunite with Steven Gerrard, ending a 12 year Liverpool career.

Should Lavia join, Klopp will be pinning his hopes on a much younger midfield. Stefan Bajcetic made a breakthrough last year. He is still only 18.

Mac Allister is 24, Szoboszlai is 22, Curtis Jones is 22 and Harvey Elliott is 20. Only Thiago Alcantara will remain among the more experienced midfield options, and Liverpool were open to offers for him earlier this summer.

Klopp has also used Cody Gakpo and Trent Alexander-Arnold, both 24, in midfield roles during pre-season, the age profile of his midfield dramatically altered.

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