Romeo Lavia could be next Fernandinho if Liverpool team up to complete Jurgen Klopp's perfect midfield - Liverpool Echo

Romeo Lavia could be next Fernandinho if Liverpool team up to complete Jurgen Klopp’s perfect midfield – Liverpool Echo

Southampton midfielder Romeo Lavia is a target for Liverpool this summer.

The Belgian is one of the in-demand players the Saints could lose ahead of their first season in the Championship following their relegation from the Premier League. Russell Martin is the new man in charge at St Mary’s after the club chose not to make Ruben Selles’ caretaker stint permanent.

It was a tough campaign on the south coast after Ralph Hasenhuttl was subsequently replaced by Luton Town boss Nathan Jones. The Welshman struggled to keep Southampton out of the relegation zone despite beating Everton and was relieved of his duties following their form.

Meanwhile, Liverpool have welcomed Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai through the doors at Anfield this summer. Preliminary talks have been held with Belgian Lavia’s representatives as the Reds could make their third midfield acquisition ahead of the upcoming Premier League season.

READ MORE: Liverpool transfer status as Romeo Lavia, Khephren Thuram and Micky van de Ven enter the picture

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Reds fans will know Lavia, as he unintentionally assisted Liverpool’s opening goal in their captivating encounter last season. Diogo Jota shot into the gaping net on the last day of the season as Southampton appeared to be playing from behind.

Jan Bednarek passed back to Alex McCarthy who looked to midfield to build up their attack, the Belgian tried to complete the triangle with a pass back to the defender but found the Portugal international as a result.

It was a horrific mistake for the youngster, but fans shouldn’t judge him for that.

Who is Liverpool targeting Romeo Lavia?

Romeo Lavia is a 19-year-old midfielder who has grown through the ranks of the highly respected RSC Anderlecht academy. He ended his eight-year spell with the Belgian giants in 2020 when he left Brussels for Manchester and signed for Manchester City.

He made over 30 appearances for their U21s, winning two Premier League 2 titles and bowing out for the seniors in the Carabao Cup against Wycombe before making a second and only appearance in the FA Cup against Swindon Town.

Last July, Southampton completed the midfielder’s signing for a fee that could rise to £14 million after the original deal was believed to be worth £10.5 million, including a 20 per cent sell-on clause.

It has been reported that City have a buy-back option for the Belgium international, who made his debut against Germany in an international friendly in March.

What position does Romeo Lavia play?

Romeo Lavia is a central midfielder, but he mostly plays in a holding position.

In his debut season at Southampton, he made 22 appearances for the back four with a further seven appearances in central midfield, scoring his only goal.

Among his strengths are interceptions and breaking the lines with his bursting runs through midfield with potential comparisons to Fabinho with his tackling abilities.

How much would Romeo Lavia cost?

According to reports, Romeo Lavia is currently worth a price in the region of £40 million to £50 million, with Southampton valuing him at the latter, according to the Daily Mail.

Who does Romeo Lavia look like?

Romeo Lavia has already detailed that he has tried to recreate his game around iconic Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets and Manchester City stalwart Fernandinho.

“I have a lot to Fernandinho and [Sergio] Busquets,” he told Goal. “Those two have dominated the game as defensive midfielders. I watched them a lot.

“Fernandinho knows what he’s doing – he doesn’t run for the sake of running. He’s like the brains of the team.”

“When you’re young you want to run – left, right – but he knows what he’s doing, so he won’t run as often, but will still be effective. That’s something I keep learning from him.

“I’ve spoken to him, but not in person because of Covid, so just on social media.”

He was one of the key members of Enzo Maresca’s side in the Etihad youth academy as they dominated the Premier League 2.

In an excerpt providing insight into his approach to his midfield role, he described how City influenced his role as a ball-playing midfielder. He said: “I really enjoy getting the ball back and going through the line.

“Enzos [Maresca] helped me a lot with that, always being on the half turn so I can see the game ahead so it’s not a problem now.

“I know I have my qualities, but when I do something wrong they help me. Obviously my teammates have experience – some of them have trained with the first team. They have helped me a lot and I’m continuing to learn.”

What has been said about Romeo Lavia?

There’s a lot of critical acclaim surrounding the 19-year-old. Former Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl expressed his ambition to make him a “top player”.

“We know his qualities, but we try to be positive towards him, but also critical because we want to make him a top player,” said the Austrian.

“It is important for those players not to immediately receive compliments for their excellent or good performances, but also to be critical of the things that he needs to improve.

“What I like about these young guys is they seem to be very self-critical and want to learn, and always want input. This is a really good character, I think it gets better because when you think you’re a superstar it’s hard to make them better.”

Theo Walcott was a teammate of Lavia during his debut season at St Mary’s. And the former Everton striker described a quality the Belgian possesses that stood out.

“I am a big fan [of Lavia]’ he added eloquently talkSPORT in January. “Obviously he’s had a few injuries but he’s coming back. He’s young, he’s 18/19 when he’s off the pitch, but when he’s on the pitch it’s crazy.

“It’s like he’s played over 200 games in the Premier League, that’s how I appreciate him. It’s very interesting to watch him from the stands. Of course it looks so easy from the stands, it always does.”

“You probably know when you look at us, ‘he has to run or make that pass’ it’s not as easy as that, but when I look at him I think ‘you look way above your age now’ .

“It’s a good sign and hopefully we can keep him fit. They are all learning, but especially he is learning faster than usual I would say.”

What has been reported?

The ECHO understands that Southampton’s Romeo Lavia is on the radar after an impressive individual campaign in his first full season as a Premier League player. The Belgium international is only 19, but managed to score 29 times and stood out in a Saints side that ultimately failed to avoid relegation.

The interest in Lavia is genuine and Liverpool have been watching his development since moving to the south coast from Man City last year. However, his inexperience could still put him at a disadvantage when it comes to a possible move. For the sort of award being quoted, Liverpool usually prefer players to have played somewhere between 150 and 200 senior games, where Lavia has less than 40.

Sources at senior Anfield have insisted their interest is currently no further than the due diligence process, but he is most certainly a player whose ceiling and current ability means he is much loved within the club. As evidenced by the sudden move for Szoboszlai, Liverpool move quickly when the green light is given.

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