Roméo Lavia & The Defensive Midfield Solution
At the outset of this season, there were a number of issues that didn’t get a transfer-based solution. When Julian Ward missed out on Aurélien Tchouaméni, it was assumed that we were missing out on the eventual Gini Wijnaldum replacement (at LCM), or the player that would ease the captain out of the side, at RCM. Despite both of these issues still needing urgent attention, it does appear that the defensive midfield spot also needs vital attention. The reds system of play and desire to incorporate a gegenpressing style, means control and physicality is essential in that middle ground. With a distinct lack of either of this in the Reds’ current squad, much more than Jude Bellingham and Mason Mount will be needed in the summer. Liverpool were once brilliant in taking undervalued talent away from certain teams, which is why the demise of Southampton should see the reds attempt to prise away their jewel in the crown. Below are some details on a player that has been linked this week.
Age – 19-years old (DOB 06/01/2001)
Current club – Southampton
Nationality – Belgium
Contract expiry – 30-June 2027
Height – 5ft 10inch
Weight – 76kg
Club appearances – 87 games
Club goals & assists – 3 goals / 6 assists
Total minutes played – 6,937
International caps & goals – 1 games / 0 goals
Transfermarkt value – €25m
The issue with teams like Manchester City and Chelsea mopping up much of the talented youngsters around Europe, is that these players will eventually demand to leave. As well as recruiting so many wonder-kids, these two massive spending clubs will also look to splurge huge amounts on first team ready assets. This scenario creates a blocked pathway for many academy graduates, with only Phil Foden really pushing his way through, certainly during the current ownership. The likes of Jadon Sancho, Adrien Rabiot and Daniel Sturridge, all had to move away from their congested football clubs, in order to fulfil their talent filled trajectories. Sturridge in fact had to move on twice, with his transfer to Chelsea seeing a similar blockage unfold. He went onto to become an elite talent, much like the other two listed. It is these types of decisions that are becoming more common in the modern game, with agents only too willing to engineer a switch for their clients.
In terms of Roméo Lavia, he chose to venture away from the Etihad in 2022, after arriving from Anderlecht in 2020. A £14m fee from Southampton was able to prise away the Belgium international (from City), who has gone on to shine brightly ever since. Despite City inserting a £40m buy back clause, that does not come into effect until the summer of 2024. Pep Guardiola currently has both Rodri and Kalvin Phillips in his squad, so a return (for a higher fee) seems unlikely. Though Chelsea was rumoured to be winter admirers, they have some assets that need moving on before they can spend once more. In terms of what Klopp needs right now, Lavia would tick so many boxes for the struggling German manager. The defensive awareness, ability to cover ground, smart touch, and possession play, are all fundamentals of an elite CDM. At just 19-years-old, once capped full international would represent a brilliant piece of business, that could be achieved for a reasonable fee of £40m. Though Jude appears to be the £100m man of most interest, a move for Saints number 45 could be an ideal move to add to this. More would be needed after that, but it would be sensational to add such wonderful young talents.
With Jude primed for a RCM role (if he were to arrive), it would absolutely need a Moisés Caicedo type on the left, to rotate with an in-house Thiago. Three midfielders are needed (as a minimum), yet that three would be a sublime start to our summer spending. What is most vital to our system is energy and desire. With the South Coast side currently propping up the table, it could be a deal that gets done quite effortlessly. We have a raft of fringe youngsters that could be loaned, including the very bright and underused Curtis Jones.
With this current season stumbling along, preparations must be made for how we bounce back. Key names are starting to be mentioned, with Roméo Lavia one of them. His ceiling is enormous, which is why he could just be the defensive midfield solution we are craving. A proactive approach can change our own pathway, however, a strong and decisive Sporting Director must be identified soon. Mike Gordon is hopefully moving some pieces around the Anfield board, I just hope that Roméo Lavia is one of those pieces.