Southampton have rejected Liverpool’s opening bid for Roméo Lavia, thought to have been worth about £35m plus add-ons, with the club holding out for a £50m package for the teenage midfielder.
Lavia shone despite relegation after joining from Manchester City last summer. Liverpool are overhauling their midfield and identified the 19-year-old Belgium midfielder, who also has admirers at Chelsea, as a key target. They are expected to return with a second offer.
Southampton, who kick off the Championship season at Sheffield Wednesday next Friday, have a bloated squad but are uninterested in selling off their assets on the cheap. James Ward-Prowse is of interest to West Ham, Che Adams to Crystal Palace, Tino Livramento to Newcastle and Mohammed Salisu to Fulham.
Alex Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai have arrived at Anfield this summer but James Milner, Naby Keïta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have departed and Liverpool are in talks to sell Jordan Henderson and Fabinho to clubs in Saudi Arabia. Fabio Carvalho has left on loan.