Liverpool have seen an opening bid for Southampton midfielder Romeo Lavia rejected.
The Athletic's David Ornstein reports that Southampton have turned down an offer from Liverpool thought to be around £37m — some other reports have since claimed it was £35m with add-ons — and are holding out for a fee closer to their £50m valuation.
Lavia has been touted as Liverpool's preferred defensive midfield target for some time this summer, with the 19-year-old identified as a potential successor to Fabinho in the 'number six' role.
The Reds are undergoing a much-discussed midfield rebuild in this transfer window, having seen James Milner, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all depart at the expiry of their contracts, and Arthur Melo leave at the end of his loan deal.
In addition, Jordan Henderson and Fabinho look likely to leave for the Saudi Pro League, with both left out of Liverpool's pre-season trip to Germany. However, the latter deal appears to have hit a an 11th-hour roadblock.
In addition to the arrivals of Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai, the Reds are expected to bring in at least one more player to bolster their squad, with defensive midfield a particular area of weaknesses — regardless of what happens with Fabinho.
Lavia has reportedly already agreed personal terms with Liverpool and is keen on a move to Anfield. However, the player's valuation remains the sticking point between the clubs in negotiations.
Belgian transfer reporter Sacha Tavolieri followed up Ornstein's story by adding that Liverpool are keen to "close the deal around £40m", while Southampton "want more conversations".
Liverpool are expected to return with another offer.
Southampton appear to be holding out on their valuation for Lavia due to interest from other clubs including Arsenal and Chelsea — though neither have made Lavia a priority target. Meanwhile, any sale will see the Belgian youngster's previous club, Manchester City, earn 20% due to a sell-on clause in his move from the Premier League champions in 2022.
Previous reports claimed Liverpool want to get the deal for Lavia done by the end of July, while Jurgen Klopp himself has promised more arrivals before the start of the new Premier League season on 13 August.
Speaking on the club's official We Are Liverpool podcast, he said: “[There are] Still around three-four weeks until the first game of the season, a few things have to happen until then. Definitely. Transfer market-wise as well, that’s clear now. It will happen and we will have a good team.”