Why Andre can't be an alternative signing to Romeo Lavia for Liverpool

Sam McGuire
12 months ago

At one stage of the summer, it appeared as though Romeo Lavia might be the final piece of the puzzle for the Liverpool midfield.

The Reds had added Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai to their ranks following the departures of James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita. All that was really required was an understudy to Fabinho and Jurgen Klopp would’ve, rather swiftly, completed a remarkable midfield overhaul.

However, it wasn’t to be. Al-Ittihad tempted Liverpool to cash in on Fabinho with a £40m offer for the 29-year-old while Al-Ettifaq were determined to reunite Jordan Henderson with Steven Gerrard. Eventually, the skipper was swayed by the offer and the Reds agreed to sell the former Sunderland man for an initial fee of £12m.

Just like that, the Merseyside club had it all to do again in the transfer market having lost both of their senior defensive midfield options.

Lavia was reportedly earmarked as a long-term successor to Fabinho and the Southampton youngster was a transfer target for the Reds when it appeared as though the Brazilian would be remaining at Anfield this summer.

READ MORE: Romeo Lavia – What Southampton's transition killer would bring to Liverpool

The 19-year-old would’ve likely been viewed as a project rather than an immediate starter and yet Liverpool are still pushing ahead with a move for the Manchester City academy graduate. They’ve already had two bids rejected. Earlier in the week, reports claimed the Reds also had an eye on Fluminense midfielder Andre.

Initially, it wasn’t clear whether the 22-year-old was an alternative to Lavia or whether he was a target alongside the Southampton number 45. My thought was it had to be both given they have completely different playing profiles.

Melissa Reddy of Sky Sports has since clarified the situation, saying: “Dialogue open between Southampton and Liverpool over Romeo Lavia. He wants the move but a compromise is still needed over the fee. Liverpool working on other options. They are in talks with Fluminense for Andre. Clear the club are looking at two profiles: controller, progressive destroyer.”

While this may only be Melissa’s opinion, this simply has to be the case for Liverpool this summer. Other journalists have since posted pieces claiming it will be either Andre or Lavia for the Reds, not both. While the 2019/20 Premier League champions do have a track record of going into the season a little short in some areas, signing just one of these has the potential to derail the entire campaign.

And that is not an exaggeration.

Bringing in Lavia and no other midfielder wouldn’t be a complete disaster, though it is hardly ideal. It would be a big ask for him to perform at a high level consistently – his performances for Southampton were erratic despite the praise that would regularly go his way – but he is a defensive midfielder and he does fill a void within the squad. He models himself on Fernandinho and Sergio Busquets and while he’s not anywhere near their level, having someone of that profile in the squad will be beneficial in the long-term.

You would just have to accept the inevitable teething issues in the short-term.

© Proshots - Romeo Lavia

If, however, Liverpool can’t get Lavia over the line and instead just settle for Andre, it could be a problematic season. Granted, a deal for the Fluminense number seven looks difficult right now with the Brazilian side desperate to keep him in his homeland until January.

There is reportedly a release clause though which would make the entire process a little easier, though it would see the Reds pay double what they could potentially get him for in January. For a team obsessed with ensuring they get value for money, it might not be the smartest piece of business. Their hand may be forced though as the closer we get to deadline day, the bigger the midfield issue becomes.

While Andre plays in a double-pivot for Fluminense and he’s recognised as a 'number six' in their system, he is by no means a traditional defensive midfielder. He is combative and he does get involved in the defensive side of things, the 22-year-old is much more of a controller.

He’s much more of a Thiago than he is a Fabinho and right now the Reds need the latter more than the former. If he did make the move to Merseyside, he could eventually succeed the injury-prone Liverpool number six, but how high of a priority is that right now?

Klopp raised the technical floor of this team this summer with the additions of Szoboszlai and Mac Allister. With Trent Alexander-Arnold being pushed into midfield when the Reds are in possession, Liverpool look much more assured with the ball under pressure. There’s less of a reliance on someone with Thiago’s profile. By no means should he be viewed as a luxury but by the same token he’s no longer the necessity he once was.

READ MORE: Thiago Alcantara – Why Liverpool's 'luxury player' still has plenty to offer

The Reds could navigate their way through the 2023/24 campaign without an Andre and without a Thiago, if need be. It is unlikely the same could be said if Liverpool fail to bring in a defensive midfielder.

If Andre is joining the club, it needs to be alongside a Lavia. Ideally, it would be a more experienced midfielder who can anchor the team but beggars cannot be choosers. Liverpool allowed themselves to get into this position, they need to make the best of a tricky situation.

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