Premier League • England

Chelsea wreck Man Utd plan after accelerating £45m move for player Ten Hag wants to replace ageing superstar

Southampton midfielder Romeo Lavia

Chelsea are in talks over a £45m move for a Premier League midfielder Erik ten Hag has earmarked as an ideal replacement for Casemiro, per reports.

Casemiro has been everything Man Utd fans could’ve hoped for and more since his £70m arrival from Real Madrid. However, the veteran Brazilian has begun to fade as the campaign has worn on. Aged 31, that perhaps should not come as a surprise.

While there’s no indication Ten Hag is panicking just yet, The Independent did report the Dutch boss is already thinking about who could replace Casemiro when the time comes.

Southampton’s Romeo Lavia is understood to be the player Ten Hag has settled on. With good reason, the 19-year-old has been a revelation in his first season as a regular starter in the Premier League.

Lavia has been one of very few bright sparks for the Saints following his £14m (including add-ons) move from Man City last summer.

The teenager was rewarded with his maiden cap for Belgium earlier in 2023, though may prove to be a one and done at Southampton.

Indeed, Football Insider report Chelsea are in talks over a £45m move for the midfielder.

Discussions are understood to have been taking place behind the scenes for two months. However, Southampton’s perilous position in the league is accelerating proceedings.

It’s claimed Lavia does not wish to drop a division and one look at the table suggests that’s exactly what Southampton are about to do. With just four matches remaining, Southampton are a hefty six points from safety.

Lavia’s Saints deal reportedly contains a £45m release clause that activates in the summer of 2024. A Man City buy-back option will also activate at that time, though Chelsea are determined to strike 12 months in advance.

The Blues are understood to be willing to stump up £45m for Lavia. They hope that given Southampton won’t receive a higher fee than that down the line due to the release clause, they’ll greenlight a sale this summer rather than delay the inevitable.

Chelsea don’t lack for options in the engine room at present. However, many at their disposal are either ageing, nearing free agency or have been put up for sale.

N’Golo Kante’s contract expires this summer, while Mateo Kovacic’s deal runs out at the end of next season.

Conor Gallagher is among 15 players Chelsea will listen to offers for, as is Ruben Loftus-Cheek who is courting interest from both Milan sides.

READ MORE: Pochettino greenlights Chelsea striker signing rivals would envy after record Crystal Palace offer