Romeo Lavia made his first outing for Southampton since a rejected bid from Liverpool was made public, with the Belgian seen as “uninterested.”
It comes after an exodus in the midfield ranks already this summer, seeing James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita and loanee Arthur leave, while Jordan Henderson prepares to join Al Ettifaq.
A new offer is expected in the near future, but with no switch imminent, Lavia was part of Russell Martin’s squad to play Bournemouth in a pre-season friendly that evening.
Lavia had already clocked 94 minutes over meetings with Benfica, Goztepe and Reading, and he was part of the starting lineup at St Mary’s.
At St Mary’s tonight and Romeo Lavia looked decidedly uninterested during the first half. Head down, often walking around, showed glimpses of his class, but looked like a player wanting a move away. Taken off at half time #SouthamptonFC #SaintsFC
— James Green (@JamesGreenInUK) July 25, 2023
According to Sky Sports reporter James Green, though, the teenager “looked like a player wanting a move away” as he produced an “uninterested” display.
“Head down, often walking around,” was the verdict, and though Lavia still “showed glimpses of his class” he “looked like he had the weight of the world on him.”
That should come as no surprise given the situation, and Green added that it is “very likely a deal will be agreed soon.”
Lavia was brought off at half-time along with right-back James Bree, though this was almost certainly more due to the gradual buildup of minutes after injury saw him pull out of this summer’s U21 Euros.
Nevertheless, speaking to reporters including BBC Radio Solent Sport after the game, Martin admitted that the youngster had “a lot in his head.”
Martin was quoted by Green: “[I was] pleased with his attitude, the easiest thing to do would be to not play tonight.
“[It is] not easy for a young player to handle the noise, but he’s handled it well.
“[The] latest news is very public, he may still be here he may not.”
Interestingly, Martin added that he expects his squad to look “very different” by the time Southampton take on Sheffield Wednesday in their Championship opener on August 4.
“The process has to be that we lose some players,” he admitted.
Lavia is the most valuable asset in the Southampton squad, and though their first offer was dismissed, all signs point to Liverpool signing him in the near future.