Arsenal are “leading the race” to snap up Southampton midfielder Romeo Lavia, according to the Daily Mail.
The English tabloid claim that the Belgian international is “set to leave” the Saints this summer with the Gunners ahead of the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City in the battle to secure his services.
Mikel Arteta’s side are said to be targeting Lavia as a possible replacement for Thomas Partey, who is attracting interest from teams in Saudi Arabia.
Reports suggest that a number of clubs from the country are prepared to pay around €40m (£34.5m) for the Ghanaian, and those funds could then be reinvested in signing Lavia.
The 19-year-old is believed to be valued at around £50m by Southampton and, due to the interest being shown in the player, the south coast club are unlikely to drop their demands even though they have been relegated to the Championship.
Guardiola is a big fan of Lavia
Manchester City sold Lavia to Southampton for £14m last summer but their manager Pep Guardiola says he still rates the midfielder very highly. Before their match against the Saints in April, the Spaniard said:
“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.”
City do have a £40m buyback option on Lavia but it can only be triggered next year so, if they do want him back before then, they will have to meet Southampton’s valuation.
Lavia is not a priority transfer target for Arsenal (at the moment)
While the Gunners are keen on recruiting the midfielder, it is thought that a deal is very much dependent on getting Partey off the club’s books first.
Following the arrival of Kai Havertz, Arsenal’s main transfer priorities for the time being are reportedly West Ham captain Declan Rice and Ajax’s Jurrien Timber.