Transfer Talk: Liverpool would Lav to sign Romeo
Romeo Lavia has the world at his feet.
Despite featuring in a Southampton side that was relegated from the Premier League, the 19-year-old caught the attention of the top clubs in the division.
The midfielder was handed his Belgium debut this season, too, and could be available at a decent price considering his obvious potential.
We take a look at what the future holds for the in-demand teenager.
Since Lavia made his Manchester City first-team debut aged 17, his ability has been evident.
The Citizens were reluctant to cut ties completely when selling him last summer, inserting a buy-back clause in the deal that took him to St Mary's which cannot be activated until 2024.
And it took the No45 only a matter of weeks to impress on the South Coast.
Chelsea reportedly made a bid for the midfielder before the end of the same transfer window — and they are one of the clubs still interested this summer.
Lavia only scored one goal in 2022-23, back in August against Chelsea, but his all-round game has shown great signs of promise.
He ranked 14th for completed dribbles of all Premier League central midfielders, using his physicality and skill to create distance between himself and an opponent before easing past them.
But it is his off-the-ball work that will excite interested clubs just as much.
The Belgian sat ninth for middle-third possessions won of position rivals in the division, impressing both as a presser and a destroyer at the base of midfield.
A rumoured move to Liverpool makes sense considering the Reds' success signing players from relegated clubs during Jurgen Klopp's tenure.
The German boss moved for Gini Wijnaldum from Newcastle and Hull full-back Andy Robertson after those clubs went down, two players who contributed enormously to Premier League and Champions League successes.
And Klopp hinted at his admiration for Lavia ahead of the game against Southampton on the final day of the season, saying of the Saints midfield: "In between the two boxes, it's proper football.
"Such a talented squad, football-wise. If you let them play, they will play."
Pep Guardiola has been even more direct in his praise, saying in April: "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."
Lavia is not the only sellable asset in Southampton's squad.
James Ward-Prowse is bound to fetch a considerable fee as he moves back into the Premier League after Saints' relegation, while Carlos Alcaraz and Armel Bella-Kotchap are also talented youngsters.
Selling one or two others could allow likely incoming boss Russell Martin to keep hold of Lavia, which would be a major boost to their hopes of immediate promotion.
It is a win-win situation for the Saints, though, who will either command a big fee or have probably the most dominant midfielder in the second tier.