Liverpool are expected to submit a third and final offer to sign Southampton star Romeo Lavia this weekend – but there remains absolutely no guarantees a deal to take him to Anfield will be struck.
The Reds are desperate to strengthen their midfield this summer; a need rapidly exasperated by the surprise exits of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho. Jurgen Klopp already knew this window would be spent adding fresh faces to his engine room in the wake of a number of departures.
But the exits of the ageing stars, both to Saudi Arabia, takes the number of Liverpool midfield exits since the end of last season to six. And while two have been quickly signed in Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai, Klopp remains four bodies lighter to the squad that finished last season in fifth.
As a result, the club are quickening up their plans to swell their numbers, with Lavia fast emerging as their top target. Persuading Southampton to sell the player, though, has proved much easier said than done.
Indeed, Liverpool’s opening offer worth £37m was instantly swatted aside by Saints. A follow-up offer, totalling £43m was then submitted this week in the hope the Championship side would buckle.
However, their director of football Jason Wilcox has shown he is no pushover, standing true to the club’s £50m valuation.
Liverpool, however, feel £40m – potentially just over – represents a fair reflection of his value. Having made just 29 Premier League appearances, the Merseysiders feel anything over would be exploiting them.
Saints, though, know it is a sellers’ market, particularly with demand for the game’s top midfielders reaching new record highs.
Perhaps more worryingly for Liverpool, a report on Thursday suggested Manchester United could gazump Liverpool to Lavia’s signing.
Liverpool make third and final Romeo Lavia offer
Liverpool, however, remain unfazed and, after considering their next course of action, they are now readying a third and final bid for the player.
And this time there is a belief on Merseyside that the offer will finally break Southampton’s resolve.
The teenage star has already agreed terms on a five-year deal at Anfield, with an agreement with Saints seemingly now the final hurdle.
Describing the latest offer as the ‘ultimate bid’, Belgian journalist Sacha Tavolieri has given his take.
“These will be crucial days for the transfer of Romeo Lavia to Liverpool,” he told UB. “Personally, there has been an agreement for some time. Lavia waits for the green light to take his medical tests with the Reds. Liverpool will make a third and ultimate attempt to sign Lavia from Southampton.
“They want to seduce the Saints with €40m plus bonuses for the young Belgian. Lavia has a five-year contract at Anfield.”
Quite how the fee will be made up remains to be seen. But it appears Liverpool will need to offer a downpayment of around £37m, with £13m in bonuses to take the deal up to Saints’ £50m valuation.
Russell Martin goads Liverpool over Lavia
In the meantime, Saints boss Russell Martin plans to play both Lavia and West Ham target James Ward-Prowse in Friday night’s Championship opener at Sheffield Wednesday.
Ward-Prowse has been the subject of strong interest from the Hammers, though their opening bid of around £20m has quickly been rebuffed.
Saints have suggested a deal is there to be done if the price is right, but West Ham are now considering their next move, much to David Moyes’ frustration.
Discussing both players, Martin has warned Liverpool and West Ham he’ll continue picking the pair until they can bow to their demands.
“Both will be involved tomorrow night as it stands, I don’t know if anything will change between now and then,” Martin said on Thursday.
“Do I think they will be Southampton players by the end of the window? I have not got a clue. What I hope and what I think are probably very different.”