Chelsea have golden chance to rattle Liverpool by winning race for £50m marquee signing

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
The Blues are on the hunt for a new midfielder this summer, and have been linked with Southampton star Romeo Lavia

Let me tell you a story. One year, when I was about nine or ten, I got, among other things, two standout presents for Christmas. One was an Xbox, that hulking black cube from another dimension, with its unfathomable graphics and its bundled copy of Halo. The other was an Atari - or rather, a cheap replica of one - the kind that plugged straight into the back of a television and came preloaded with a smattering of classic titles.

One day, in that vague, lost week preceding the new year, a neighbour came round to buy some unwanted piece of bedroom furniture or other from my mam and dad. When she arrived, a little after tea, I was sat, cross-legged and bewitched on the living room floor, enthralled in a game of Pong. She said hello in that sweetly patronising way that adults do, and asked me, for the sake of convention, what I got off Santa. I looked up, fixed her with a stare full of innocence and wonder, and said, ‘an Xbox’.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

I will never forget the way that her expression flashed from idle passivity to one of instant bemusement, or the manner in which her eyes flitted between the joystick in my hand and the 8-bit paddles on the screen behind me, as if to say, ‘This poor, idiot child - dare I tell him he has been duped?’.

But here’s the thing, even if my parents had passed off an Atari for an Xbox that year, I think I would have been quite happy. I loved that little hunk of plastic, even if it wasn’t the must-have gift that the rest of the galaxy was craving and yearning for.

The latest bid is Chelsea’s fourth of this summer having seen previous offers of £60m, £65m, and £70m all turned down by the Sussex side. The latest bid was £75m + £5m add-ons.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)The latest bid is Chelsea’s fourth of this summer having seen previous offers of £60m, £65m, and £70m all turned down by the Sussex side. The latest bid was £75m + £5m add-ons.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
The latest bid is Chelsea’s fourth of this summer having seen previous offers of £60m, £65m, and £70m all turned down by the Sussex side. The latest bid was £75m + £5m add-ons.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

And that, in a tangentially loose sort of way, brings us to Chelsea, and in particular, their hunt for a new midfielder this summer. The Blues have been heavily linked with Moises Caicedo for many, many moons now. The Brighton talent, having served his requisite apprenticeship on the south coast, is understood to be hankering after a move to a bigger club in the coming weeks, but his current employers - buoyed by the astronomical fee West Ham commanded for Declan Rice recently - are unwilling to let him leave for anything less than £100 million. Presumably, they won’t be chucking in a free copy of Halo with that figure either.

As such, there have been suggestions that Chelsea could turn their attention to a cheaper, less glitzy, but equally as fun option; Romeo Lavia, the plug-in-and-play Atari of this summer’s transfer market.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Last season, the Belgian was that rarest of things; a shining light in an otherwise depressingly drab Southampton side. Still only 19, his performances for the Saints were enough to convince many that he is a serious prospect with serious potential. Alongside the Blues, Liverpool have been credited with an interest, so much so that they have already had a bid of around £37 million rejected; Southampton, for their part, are understood to be demanding somewhere in the region of £50 million.

And if Chelsea are willing to spend £80 million or so on Caicedo, then they should genuinely consider meeting that asking price for the teenager. As things stand, Mauricio Pochettino’s midfield is positively skeletal. Beyond January signing Enzo Fernandez and potential departure Conor Gallagher, the Blues have little in the centre of the park apart from a dusting of unproven prodigies. Reinforcements are needed swiftly and desperately, and the longer the Caicedo saga drags on, the less hope you have of an agreement being reached.

Romeo Lavia of Southampton looks of during the Pre-Season Friendly between Southampton FC and AFC Bournemouth at St Mary's Stadium on July 25, 2023. Picture: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)Romeo Lavia of Southampton looks of during the Pre-Season Friendly between Southampton FC and AFC Bournemouth at St Mary's Stadium on July 25, 2023. Picture: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Romeo Lavia of Southampton looks of during the Pre-Season Friendly between Southampton FC and AFC Bournemouth at St Mary's Stadium on July 25, 2023. Picture: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

The numbers would tell you that Lavia is not quite as good as his Ecuadorian counterpart, that he doesn’t make quite as many tackles or quite as many key passes in vital moments. But then again, the numbers don’t tell you that he was playing in the worst team in the Premier League last season, or that Caicedo was featuring for a club who qualified for Europe for the first time in their history. Context is important, as is the good old fashioned test by sight.

Watching Lavia, you see that he is a player who handles both his defensive and creative duties with aplomb. You see a player who can disrupt and dictate, who can provide a key presence in the engine room. You see a player who, were he to continue on his current trajectory, would be worth a damn sight more than £50 million in years to come.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Liverpool’s pursuit of the midfielder could, of course, represent an obstacle, but when it comes to spending big and out-muscling his boardroom rivals, Todd Boehly has already proven on numerous occasions that his not afraid to cannonball into negotiations.

The long and the short of it can be summed up thusly; Chelsea need extra bodies in the middle, and ideally said bodies should boast both Premier League experience and plenty of potential for the future. Romeo Lavia provides both, and with the prospect of a deal for Moises Caicedo growing ever dimmer, he might well prove to the be the Blues’ best hope this summer.

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.