Southampton manager goes back on his word in Romeo Lavia transfer boost for Liverpool

Southampton boss Russell Martin has hinted that Liverpool target Romeo Lavia is unlikely to be at the club beyond this summer’s transfer deadline amid interest from the Reds.

Southampton manager Russell Martin appeared to concede that Romeo Lavia is increasingly likely to leave the club amid transfer interest Liverpool.

The talented 19-year-old midfielder earned rave reviews on the south coast last season following his switch from Manchester City and quickly established himself as one of their most talented players. The vultures have been circling, though, after Southampton’s relegation from the Premier League was confirmed back in May.

Liverpool have already seen two bids for the playmaker rebuffed by the Saints, who value the teenager at £50m. And although Martin was in a defiant mood when he was asked about Lavia’s future a couple of weeks ago, he was far less bullish on the eve of Southampton’s opening game of the season – a match Lavia played in no part.

Speaking last month after news of Liverpool’s first bid had emerged, Martin said of Lavia: “Pleased with his attitude, easiest thing to do would be to not play tonight. Not easy for a young player to handle the noise, but he’s handled it well. Latest news is very public, he may still be here he may not.”

But the new Saints boss seemed far less defiant during his pre-match press conference ahead of Southampton’s Championship opener against Sheffield Wednesday on Friday night. Speaking of Lavia and James Ward-Prowse, who has also been linked with a move away, Martin said: “Both will be involved as it stands, I don’t know if anything will change between now and then.

“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.”

Coincidentally, Lavia was an unused substitute just 24 hours after Martin’s comments as Southampton travelled down to Hillsborough. Ward-Prowse, who has been the subject of bids from West Ham, did start the match, which the Saints won 2-1.

Jurgen Klopp is in need of further midfield reinforcements before the new Premier League campaign kicks off next weekend after losing captain Jordan Henderson and Fabinho in recent weeks. The duo, who were expected to remain first-choice this term, were lured to the Middle East courtesy of lucrative offers from Al-Ettifaq and Al-Ittihad respectively.

The Reds have already splashed out on deals for Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai, but a third midfielder is firmly on Klopp’s agenda. It remains to be seen though if Liverpool will return with a third proposal for Lavia after their latest offer, worth around £41m in total, was rejected by Southampton earlier this week.

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