Liverpool have been working to sign talented teenager Romeo Lavia from Southampton this summer, however, rivals Chelsea have joined the race for the Belgian midfielder, adding more spice to an already fascinating transfer scramble.
According to numerous reports, Chelsea have tabled a £48m offer for the highly-rated 19-year-old – a bid that trumps all of the packages offered by Liverpool to the Saints so far.
The former Man City youngster is believed to have been pushing for a move to Anfield, however, Chelsea’s late arrival on the scene might trigger a rethink.
Romeo Lavia’s summer timeline
When Southampton were relegated from the Premier League last season, Romeo Lavia was one of several of the club’s youngsters tipped to seek out pastures new and the anchorman was linked with moves to Arsenal and Manchester United before Liverpool firmed up their interest in the midfielder.
The Reds have been submitting incremental offers for Lavia in recent weeks, though their bids have all fallen short of Southampton’s £50m valuation of their starlet and Liverpool’s tentative transfer tactics have been drawing plenty of criticism.
Liverpool initially offered £34m for Lavia and return with a package worth £42m when their opening suggestion was rebuffed. When their second bid was knocked back, Liverpool up the ante – but only slightly – to £46m, however, that too was turned down, leading supporters and former players alike to question the Merseysiders’ reluctance to stump up the cash to match Southampton’s demands.
Indeed, Liverpool’s dawdling has opened the door for Chelsea to steel in ahead of them with a superior offer of £48m, which lands just short of the Saints’ ideal figure.
Liverpool, Chelsea and Southampton engage in transfer games
Chelsea’s decision to make a concrete move for Romeo Lavia is inexorably linked to their summer-long pursuit of Brighton’s Ecuadorian international, Moises Caicedo.
The Blues have had a string of big-money offers for Caicedo turned down by Brighton, though their very public stance switch could be a ploy to bring the Seagulls back to the negotiation table.
In another twist to the tale, fresh reports surfaced today to suggest that Liverpool had made contact with Brighton about the possibility of signing Caicedo themselves, though again, a cynical mind might label that move as mischievous following Chelsea’s swoop for Lavia.
Sources close to Chelsea have indicated that the Blues still feel that they are in the driving seat to sign Caicedo however, while Liverpool’s reluctance to part with £50m for Lavia throws into doubt their ability to find close to the £100m it would take to bring Caicedo to Anfield.
Lavia was left out of the Southampton squad that was beaten 3-1 by Gillingham in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday evening which suggested the Saints expect him to be sold soon, though the Belgian’s next destination is suddenly unclear.
While Liverpool seemed to have a clear run at signing the newly-capped international, the Reds now face a tug-of-war with Chelsea for his signature. If the Reds do eventually lose out in this particular transfer battle, the club’s supporters’ animosity towards thrifty owners FSG will start to intensify even further.
Liverpool have a net spend of around £30m this summer, which is one the lowest outlays in the Premier League and the pressure on American owners FSG to loosen their purse strings will crank up if the Reds lose Lavia to Chelsea.