Arsenal ‘reach verbal agreement with Southampton’s Romeo Lavia’

Arsenal reportedly reach a verbal agreement with Southampton midfielder Romeo Lavia, but the Saints are still holding out for a £50m fee to let the Belgian leave.

Arsenal have reached a verbal agreement with Southampton midfielder Romeo Lavia, according to a report.

The Belgium international is expected to leave the Saints after just one season following their relegation to the Championship for the 2023-24 campaign.

Despite the Saints’ last-placed finish in the top flight, Lavia was a shining light for the South Coast club, posting one goal and one assist in 35 games across all tournaments and impressing with his tenacious displays in the centre of the park.

Lavia’s contract at St Mary’s still has another four years left to run, but the Saints have seemingly resigned themselves to losing the former Manchester City starlet amid links with a number of Big Six teams.

Liverpool and Chelsea have both been tipped to make a move for the 19-year-old, but there is now said to be a ‘growing belief’ that he will end up at the Emirates for next season.

Southampton midfielder Romeo Lavia pictured in August 2022© Reuters

Having made progress in talks with Lavia’s entourage, Football Insider claims that the midfielder has reached a verbal agreement with the North London giants, who are firmly at the head of the queue for his signature.

Arsenal are yet to agree a fee with Southampton, though, and the report adds that the Saints are prepared to demand as much as £50m to let the lynchpin seek pastures new this summer.

With big-money deals for Declan Rice and Kai Havertz currently taking priority, Arsenal will supposedly wait until next month before making a formal approach to Southampton.

The Gunners may also have to make some sales if moves for Rice and Havertz – which could total close to £170m – are completed, but Mikel Arteta is said to be personally pushing for Lavia’s signing with the board.

Man City are understood to have inserted a buyback clause worth £40m into Lavia’s deal when he left for Southampton, but the Citizens cannot trigger it until 2024, and it will also be voided if the Belgian leaves Southampton this summer.

Chelsea's Noni Madueke in action with Southampton's Romeo Lavia on February 18, 2023© Reuters

To make room for Rice, Havertz and Lavia, Arsenal could offload a trio of current midfielders in Granit Xhaka, Thomas Partey and Albert Sambi Lokonga ahead of the 2023-24 season.

Xhaka is believed to be the closest to a departure amid reports of a £13m agreement with Bayer Leverkusen, but his transfer is on hold until Arsenal get a replacement through the door.

Meanwhile, Juventus are thought to be pushing for the signing of Partey – who is also wanted by multiple Saudi Pro League teams – while Burnley boss Vincent Kompany is said to be keen on a reunion with ex-Anderlecht protege Lokonga, either on loan or permanently.

Xhaka’s exit could be sealed next week, as Chelsea’s Havertz – who could be deployed in a midfield role under Arteta – is expected to complete his Arsenal medical this weekend ahead of his £65m arrival.

The Gunners are also said to be planning a third bid for West Ham’s £100m-rated captain Rice, having learned of Man City’s intention to make a formal bid for the 24-year-old.

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