Chelsea seal signing of 'perfect player' Romeo Lavia but suffer Reece James injury blow

Midfielder completes £53m move from Southampton while new captain ruled out with hamstring problem

Romeo Lavia only has one season and 29 games of Premier League football under his belt. Reuters
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Big-spending Chelsea completed the signing of midfielder Romeo Lavia from Southampton on Friday.

The Blues are reported to have forked out £53 million for the 19-year-old, who has played just 29 times in the Premier League, in a deal that could potentially rise to to £58 million.

It is the second time in a week that Chelsea have beaten Premier League rivals Liverpool to the signature of a highly rated midfielder after Brighton's Moises Caicedo chose Stamford Bridge over Anfield in what was a British record fee of £115 million.

“That is about the player's decision,” said Blues manager Mauricio Pochettino, ahead of Sunday's game at West Ham United. “It is their decision if they come here. It wasn't a competition, it was a player's decision to join us.

“That makes us very happy and they talk very highly about our owners and our sporting directors in the way that they work.

“The players wanted to come here because I think they are feeling something special. I hope they are feeling something special.”

Chelsea have now spent more than £350 million during this transfer window once performance-related add-ons are taken into account, with their other summer arrivals including Christopher Nkunku, Axel Disasi and Nicolas Jackson

However, those purchases have neen been significantly offset after a number of players left the club during the same window.

The likes of Kai Havertz, Mason Mount and Mateo Kovacic all joined Premier League clubs, while Kalidou Koulibaly, Edouard Mendy and N'Golo Kante moved to Saudi Arabia.

On Friday, Pochettino expressed his delight at new signing Lavia – and the backing he was been given by the club's owners to secure the record deal for Caicedo.

“We all know [Lavia], his quality, his profile. I think he is the perfect player for this project. We are excited and we are so happy to add him to the squad.

“The club worked really, really hard [to sign Caicedo]. I have to congratulate the owners and the sporting directors Laurence [Stewart] and Paul [Winstanley] because the deal was amazing.

“To add these type of players like Moises or Romeo and all the players singing, I think it was fantastic work from the club and I think we need to congratulate the job they are doing.”

The announcement of their latest new signing was tempered somewhat by the news that newly-appointed captain Reece James has picked up a hamstring injury that will rule him out for “a few weeks”.

It is the latest setback for England full-back Reece who managed just 16 Premier League appearances last season due to injuries and also missed the World Cup in Qatar.

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The 23-year-old was withdrawn in the second half of Chelsea's opening weekend draw with Liverpool but the latest issue arose during training.

“It's a hamstring. It's not a few days, a few weeks maybe,” said Pochettino, who has already lost Nkunku and Wesley Fofana to long-term injuries. “It's a sad moment because he's our captain, he was so excited to be the captain, full of energy.

“We are going to arses him day by day and as soon as possible we want him again with the team. For sure he's going to become stronger than he was because we are going to help him to become stronger than before.”

And Pochettino admitted Chelsea's transfer activity might not be over after missing out on Crystal Palace's Michael Olise with the French winger signing a new deal with the Eagles.

“We are working of course,” Pochettino added. “We're seeing all the options we can manage on the market. I think all the clubs are the same as us.

“In the same time we are keeping eyes on Armando Broja because I think we cannot forget him. We cannot stop him by bringing a profile of player that could stop his evolution. We really believe in him, he can be a really important strike for Chelsea. We need to be careful.”

Updated: August 18, 2023, 1:24 PM