Analysis: How signing Romeo Lavia could affect Stefan Bajcetic

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Liverpool are reportedly progressing in talks with Southampton over the signing of Belgian midfielder Romeo Lavia, in a move worth at least £45million.

Lavia could become Liverpool’s third signing of the summer, following the arrivals of Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szobozslai earlier in the window.

With Fabinho set to complete his £40 million move to Al-Ittihad, this would mean Jurgen Klopp would be left with two teenagers in Lavia and Stefan Bajcetic as defensive midfielders at the club.

As it stands, the Reds aren’t actively being linked with signing a fourth midfielder so today we’re going to look into what the potential arrival of Lavia could mean for Bajcetic.

Last season:

Both youngsters had a breakthrough year in the 2022/23 season, with Lavia making 35 appearances for Southampton across all competitions and Bajcetic featuring 26 times for the Reds.

Romeo Lavia is the more experienced player out of the two, with the 19-year-old being an ever-present in the Saints’ midfield last season.

Whereas Stefan Bajcetic’s game time was much more limited due to the competition of the likes of Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara when fit.

Both players regularly were deployed as a defensive midfielder, often at the base of a midfield three which suits the way Klopp has set his side up over the past few years.

Despite Southampton’s relegation from the Premier League last season, Lavia was one of the very few bright sparks in a horrific season.

His fantastic form was recognised internationally as well and even earned him a call up to the Belgium National Team in March, where he made one appearance.

Who will fit into Klopp’s plans?

The first thing Jurgen Klopp will be looking for from his defensive midfielder is plenty of energy, intelligence, and physicality.

In Fabinho’s prime years at the club, his interceptions between the lines and ball retention were what made him such an impressive force in Liverpool’s midfield.

Below are both Stefan Bajcetic and Romeo Lavia’s defensive numbers from the 2022/23 campaign, averaged out per 90 minutes.

Romeo Lavia:

  • Tackles- 2.43
  • Tackles won- 1.43
  • Dribblers challenged- 2.15
  • Blocks- 1.90
  • Interceptions- 1.34
  • Clearances- 0.57
  • Ball recoveries- 7.58

Stefan Bajcetic:

  • Tackles- 2.13
  • Tackles won- 1.42
  • Dribblers challenged- 4.68
  • Blocks- 0.99
  • Interceptions- 1.42
  • Clearances- 0.57
  • Ball recoveries- 6.66

As you can see, both players come in pretty level in terms of their defensive numbers from last season.

The stats that I see as most important to come into Liverpool’s current midfield is ball recoveries, dribblers challenged and tackles won.

Lavia is superior in terms of ball recoveries with 7.58 recoveries per 90 minutes, whilst Bajcetic averages just lower than that with 6.66 per 90.

When it comes to dribblers challenged, it’s the current Liverpool midfielder who comfortably comes 0ut on top with 4.68 challenges per 90 minutes.

Both players have a similar number of tackles won per 90 minutes, but Bajcetic has a much higher tackle success ratio than Lavia.

Secondly, Klopp will be looking for his defensive midfielder to be more than comfortable on the ball and be able to contribute to the maintaining of possession and to the build-up of play into the attacking phase.

Below are both players’ statistics in possession from the 2022/23 season, averaged per 90 minutes.

Romeo Lavia:

  • Touches- 52.19
  • Passes completed- 34.81
  • Pass completion %- 86.2%
  • Key passes- 0.65
  • Passes into final third- 4.09
  • Progressive passes- 4.13
  • Carries- 32.58
  • Successful take-ons- 1.13

Stefan Bajcetic:

  • Touches- 59.39
  • Passes completed- 36.85
  • Pass completion %- 77.8%
  • Key passes- 0.57
  • Passes into final third- 2.83
  • Progressive passes- 4.25
  • Carries- 32.17
  • Successful take-ons- 1.13

Based on the numbers, Romeo Lavia looks far more secure on the ball with a 9% gap between his pass completion percentage compared to Bajcetic’s.

The 19-year-old is also much more forward-thinking with his play than Bajcetic with a much higher rate of passes into the final third as well as more key passes per 90 minutes.

With no disrespect intended to Bajcetic, you can tell Lavia has come through Manchester City’s academy in the maturity and confidence of his play with the ball at his feet.

Personally, I would be leaning towards Romeo Lavia ahead of Stefan Bajcetic at the current moment in time with the Spaniard a year behind him in terms of his career progression.

Bajcetic is still obviously a fantastic youngster who could become one of the most promising players in the world and we could even see a situation where minutes are split closely between the two players.

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  1. Seriously mate, stats are not the be all and end all in football. Stefan had those numbers when we had 70% possession in matches. He was still winning the ball, intercepting etc. Lavia would have much more chance of winning the ball in his matches as they rarely had the ball. Stefan is going to be a top player. Miles better than Lavia. I’m praying we don’t buy this kid.

  2. Seriously, they have similar profile and stats, I would have preferred an older and experienced DM to Lavia with Bajcetic being the main cover and understudy


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