Southampton’s fourth signing of the summer, Roméo Lavia arrives at St Mary’s with an exciting reputation.
Born in Brussels, the midfielder joined nearby Anderlecht, Belgium’s most successful football club, at just eight years old.
Lavia first came to City’s attention when he was spotted by Pep Guardiola playing in the KDB Cup, a tournament hosted by Belgian superstar Kevin De Bruyne, when he was 14.
Despite being a year younger than most of his teammates and opponents, Lavia helped Anderlecht lift the trophy at the expense of clubs including Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund, as well as Guardiola’s City.
Two years later, in the summer of 2020, Lavia moved to England and signed his first professional contract with the current Premier League champions, aged 16.
Within three months of joining the Under-18s, he was promoted to the Elite Development Squad, where he was a standout performer as City won the Premier League 2 title.
Having been crowned Player of the Season, Lavia moved up to the first-team last summer, and was included in the club’s Champions League squad for the 2021/22 campaign.
Named as a substitute for the first time in the Champions League opener against RB Leipzig, he made his senior debut six days later, playing the full 90 minutes as City thrashed League One side Wycombe 6-1 in the Carabao Cup third round.
His second and final first-team appearance for the club came as a late substitute at Swindon, where City ran out 4-1 winners in the FA Cup third round.
Lavia was also on the bench for nine Premier League outings and six Champions League matches last season, including both legs of the semi-final against Real Madrid.
A tenacious ball-winning midfielder, the 18-year-old looks up to Sergio Busquets and Fernandinho as role models in his position.
After earning 10 caps for Belgium Under-19s and captaining the side, Lavia made his Under-21 debut against Scotland in June.
Now he will hope for more minutes on the pitch at club level to continue his development as a Saint.