Premier League • England

Sources: Chelsea plot to replace club icon with Guardiola favourite revealed with summer departure certain

Southampton midfielder Romeo Lavia and Leicester City playmaker James Maddison

Southampton midfielder Romeo Lavia has reportedly ‘jumped’ to the top of Chelsea’s transfer shortlist, as they look for a long-term replacement for N’Golo Kante. 

The former Manchester City man has impressed with the Saints this term, attracting the interest of several Premier League clubs.

Chelsea first registered their interest in Lavia last summer, so seeing them reignite their interest wouldn’t be a major surprise.

According to Football InsiderTodd Boehly is eyeing a summer move for the midfielder as he continues to focus on the future.

This season, Lavia has made 23 appearances for Southampton and has been one of the few positives of their dismal season.

Former manager Pep Guardiola has been full of praise for the 19-year-old. Man City also have a buy-back clause for Lavia which becomes active in 2024, so could rival Chelsea for his signature.

“I am really impressed with what Romeo has done and is doing,” declared the City boss.

“We had, and we have, an incredible opinion about him. We thought to keep him, but maybe he would not (get) enough minutes like he has in Southampton.”

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Sources: Saints won’t block Lavia exit

Now, TEAMtalk can exclusively reveal that Southampton have told Lavia that they will not stand in his way and allow him to leave this summer, whether they stay up or not.

As mentioned, the 19-year-old midfielder only joined at the start of the season, but is now set to leave less than 12-months later.

Indeed, Chelsea are long-term admirers and believe he has a huge future ahead of him. Arsenal are also thought to consider him as a possible option in case their pursuit of Declan Rice falls by the way-side.

Man City, as noted, have a £40m buy back that becomes active in 2024, so are keeping tabs on him too.

Chelsea could be in the market for a new midfielder this summer with N’Golo Kante being linked with a shock move to Barcelona.

The Frenchman has been key to the Blues’ recent success, helping them to win the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and Europa League since his arrival in 2016.

He would certainly be a tough act to follow, but with Lavia playing in a similar defensive midfield role to Kante, he could prove to be the ideal replacement.

Southampton are believed to value Lavia at £40m (which is the same price Man City’s buy-back clause is set at), so Boehly will have to put his money where his mouth is to get a deal over the line.

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