Pep Guardiola has heaped praise on a Premier League midfielder, suggesting Manchester City could beat Liverpool and Arsenal to his capture.
Guardiola already has very strong options in central midfield. He can use the likes of Ilkay Gundogan, Rodri, Kevin de Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Kalvin Phillips there.
However, City might need to sign one or two new midfielders in the summer transfer window. That is because Gundogan and Silva could both leave the Etihad.
Gundogan’s City contract expires at the end of the season. He is currently weighing up whether to agree an extension or find a new club, with Barcelona monitoring the situation.
Silva’s City deal runs until June 2025. But he has been open about his desire to take part in a new challenge and reports in France claim he is a top target for Paris Saint-Germain.
One player Guardiola might pursue if both Gundogan and Silva leave is Romeo Lavia. He spent time in the City academy but left for Southampton last summer as Guardiola could not offer him regular first-team opportunities. As per BBC Sport, Southampton paid an initial £10.5million to sign Lavia, plus £3.5m in potential add-ons.
The Belgian has impressed in his debut season at St Mary’s, despite the Saints being at serious risk of getting relegated.
Lavia’s mature performances in the Premier League have resulted in interest from some major clubs such as Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea.
Man City can sign player before Liverpool, Arsenal
But City have the advantage over all of Lavia’s other suitors. They have the option to buy him back from Southampton for £40m, although that option only becomes active in summer 2024.
Ahead of City’s trip to Southampton on Saturday evening, Guardiola was asked about the talented 19-year-old. He said (via the official City website): “I am really impressed with what Romeo has done and is doing.
“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.”
After speaking about some of the other youngsters who have swapped City for Southampton recently, Guardiola added: “(It’s a) good experience to go to the Premier League and play at this early age. So important.”
From what Guardiola is saying it is clear that City are keeping tabs on Lavia’s development and have been impressed by how he is coping with senior football.
The teenager is showing that he has what it takes to become a reliable Prem midfielder and therefore it would make sense if City re-signed him for £40m. This move would also deprive rivals such as Liverpool, Arsenal and Man Utd from being able to complete a deal of their own.
Lavia might be wary about going back to the Citizens. After all, the main reason he left in the first place was because he was not going to play often enough.
However, things will be different next season if Gundogan and Silva leave. Their departures will leave a hole in Guardiola’s midfield, one which Lavia has the ability to fill.