Liverpool will need to act quickly because Arsenal, Chelsea, and Man City are also interested in the player Pep Guardiola previously praised.
All season long, Liverpool’s need for new midfielders was clear. The middle of the park proved to be problematic on the field, and off it, at least two midfielders were expected to leave as unrestricted free agents at the end of their contracts. In the end, four stars in that position have left the team.
There were several issues in the middle of the field, not the least of which was the fact that Fabinho was essentially the only holding midfielder in the team. The previous year, that reliance even caused Jürgen Klopp to rush the Brazilian back from an injury prior to the Champions League final, and all of that had obviously taken a toll.
For a large portion of the season, Fabinho resembled a shadow of himself, appearing lethargic, exhausted, and perhaps even mentally fatigued. It didn’t help that he was occasionally left almost entirely alone in the middle of Liverpool’s midfield. Fabinho made progress, but he could use more assistance.
Liverpool needs to deal with the issue, and better late than never. The recent season has notably brought to light the potential decline. And Klopp will be scrambling to find a solution, which must include bringing in a player who can offer protection and competition in the holding midfield position.
One player, 19-year-old Roméo Lavia, who recently made his debut for the Belgian national team after catching the eye for Southampton this season in the Premier League, may have been a former protégé of Pep Guardiola. Liverpool is taking a look, while there is also significant interest from Arsenal and Chelsea, according to this week’s Reading The Game newsletter from The Independent.
Dynamic midfielder Lavia, who spent time in Manchester City’s academy and even made his debut for Guardiola’s first team before deciding to move on this summer in a move that has unquestionably paid off thus far, is particularly strong in defense but is also at ease on the ball and extremely press-resistant.
Back in April, Football Insider reported that Lavia’s performance had caught the attention of both Liverpool and Manchester City, who are open to making a move for the youngster this summer and nullifying Guardiola’s buy-back clause. Liverpool also have a buy-back clause that can only be activated in the summer of 2024. Southampton will demand at least $51 million (£40 million/€47 million) from Manchester City for the adolescent, according to The Daily Mail.
Guardiola praised Lavia’s first few months in the Premier League earlier in the season.
As reported on the official Manchester City website, Guardiola said, “Yes, Roméo Lavia started the game amazingly; unfortunately, he has had the injury. In addition, he made the midfielder’s EFL Cup debut when he was just 17 years old, demonstrating his obvious admiration for the player by selecting him.
The Belgian national team player would be a perfect fit for Liverpool. Lavia has had the best defensive duel success rate of any U21 midfielder in the Premier League this year, winning 66% of them, according to Wyscout. This merits a top-15 ranking for the entire division.
Lavia can undoubtedly provide the kind of protection the defense Klopp’s team has sorely needed this year for a team like Liverpool, which has struggled to stabilize its midfield.
There is undoubtedly a compelling case for Lavia to move on now that Southampton has been demoted because he is simply too talented to compete in the second division. In the process, Liverpool may carry on a notorious transfer trend that Brendan Rodgers started.