In the midst of a supposed midfield overhaul, Liverpool are three days away from the start of the Premier League season with no specialist defensive midfielder and statistically the smallest first-team squad in the league.
While Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai have provided attacking threat from the midfield and both look to be astute purchases, ultimately two bodies in the centre of the park don't make up for the loss of six - especially when those departures include your club captain, vice captain and most experienced number six.
The club have been locked in talks with Southampton for Romeo Lavia for around a month, with Liverpool creeping closer to the South Coast club's £50m valuation, but their third and most recent bid of £46m including add-ons was rejected on Monday 7th August.
Now, with the club's eggs firmly in the basket of the 19-year-old and the first fixture against Chelsea looming, their opponents on the opening day of the season have reportedly launched a £48m bid including add ons for the highly-rated youngster.
As reported by The Athletic's David Ornstein, the West London club’s bid arrived late on Wednesday night and dialogue is currently ongoing between the two clubs - Southampton remain firm on their £50m asking price.
What's even more worrying from a Liverpool perspective is that that valuation is said to be seen by Liverpool as "too high a figure" for a player of Lavia's experience.
The club is in desperate need for reinforcements and time is running out. If Liverpool have already bid £46m for the 19-year-old and saw that as a fair price, given the circumstance, the £4m difference doesn't seem that hard to justify.
With Stefan Bajcetic and Thiago Alcantara only just returning from injury, and Liverpool not yet signing a defensive midfielder, Curtis Jones or Alexis Mac Allister look most likely to occupy the defensive midfield role against Chelsea on Sunday.