Southampton have rejected a third bid from Liverpool for Romeo Lavia.
Liverpool face Chelsea in the opening game of the season in less than a week, and as things stand, they don't have a single specialist defensive midfielder in their ranks.
After the signings of Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai last month, fans would have hoped that the club's attention would have turned to swiftly securing a new 'number six' to complete the promised midfield rebuild.
However, with the season creeping closer and closer, the problem has still not been addressed and the need for further reinforcements has only been increased by the departures of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho.
To add some context, Liverpool now have statistically the smallest first-team squad in the Premier League, with just 22 players.
Southampton's Lavia, while not the complete solution, has been touted as Liverpool's next midfield purchase, but the club are yet to meet the 19-year-old Belgian's price tag.
On Monday afternoon, it was first reported by Sky Sports' Melissa Reddy that Liverpool's third bid – worth around £46m – had been rejected by the South Coast club.
Liverpool understood to have made an improved offer for Romeo Lavia - their third - of around £46m which was also rejected by Southampton. Talks continue. More @SkySportsNews
— Melissa Reddy (@MelissaReddy_) August 7, 2023
Paul Joyce of the Times has since backed up the claim of a third bids, suggesting the total was £45m, including add-ons.
Talks between the clubs are ongoing, but Southampton are said to be holding out on their £50m valuation for the promising youngster.
The deal has now also entered a decisive period. Southampton are due to play Gillingham in League Cup action on Tuesday night, and if Lavia were to feature before moving to the Reds, he would be cup-tied and ineligible to compete in the League Cup for Liverpool this season.
Whether Jurgen Klopp gets his man remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: Liverpool need a defensive midfielder and time is running out.