Romeo Lavia denied Liverpool transfer audition after ruthless Southampton U-turn

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Romeo Lavia denied Liverpool transfer audition after ruthless Southampton U-turn
Romeo Lavia denied Liverpool transfer audition after ruthless Southampton U-turn

Romeo Lavia was consigned to a watching brief as Southampton kicked off the new Championship season with a 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday on Friday night.

Lavia, 19, has been heavily linked with a move away from the Saints following their relegation from the Premier League back in May and Liverpool have already seen two substantial offers for the talented teenager rejected this summer.

New Southampton boss Russell Martin had insisted that Lavia would feature on Friday night after the second of those Liverpool bids were rejected earlier this week. However, Lavia was left on the bench as Martin made the perfect start to his reign.

Martin was defiant in the build-up to the match at Hillsborough after being asked about Lavia and James Ward-Prowse, who has also been linked with a move elsewhere.

Speaking in his pre-match press conference, he 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.”

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But Martin went back on his word and denied Lavia any sort of opportunity to impress at Hillsborough. After naming Lavia on the bench initially, Martin opted against bringing the highly-rated midfielder on - even when Lee Gregory cancelled out Adam Armstrong's opener to restore parity.

Romeo Lavia denied Liverpool transfer audition after ruthless Southampton U-turnRomeo Lavia was left on the bench for Southampton's 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday (George Wood/Getty)

Join the debate! Where do you think Lavia will be playing after the transfer deadline: Southampton or somewhere else? Let us know here.

And Martin even ruthlessly brought on Joe Aribo - another Saints midfielder - to freshen up his engine room ahead of Lavia in the closing stages of the match.

Southampton's stance on Lavia could offer fresh encouragement to Liverpool, who are in need of midfield reinforcements before next weekend's Premier League opener at Chelsea. The Reds are light on options after Jordan Henderson and Fabinho both quit Anfield and moved to the Saudi Pro League earlier this week.

The Reds most recent offer for Lavia was believed to be worth around £41million in total; still some way short of the £50m price tag that Southampton have placed on their sought-after midfield star.

A midfield revamp was always on Jurgen Klopp's agenda this summer and the club have already splashed out on deals for Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai.

However, another midfielder is firmly on the German's agenda following the surprise departures of Henderson and Fabinho. It remains to be seen if a third bid will be submitted for Lavia in the coming days or whether the Reds will move on to other targets.

Dan Marsh

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