Liverpool have stepped up negotiations for Southampton midfielder Romeo Lavia and an improved bid is imminent.

The 19-year-old is now the club’s main transfer focus as they seek to fill the void left by Jordan Henderson and the soon-to-depart Fabinho, who accepted lucrative offers from Saudi Arabia. An opening offer of £34 million for Lavia, with a further £4 million based on appearances, was rejected last week.

However, the talks have been ongoing, although it remains to be seen how much the latest Liverpool offer will be and whether it will meet the Saints’ expectations.

Liverpool’s desperation for another defensive midfielder is obvious.

Giving such responsibility to a young player has an element of risk, especially at such a high price. But Liverpool have decided Lavia can be a star for the next 10 years, and while they do not believe the current £50 million valuation reflects his level of experience, they have no choice but to get much nearer to it.

Southampton are in a position where they can exploit the broad interest in the player as Chelsea see him as an alternative if they continue to be thwarted in their efforts to sign Moises Caicedo from Brighton and Hove Albion.

Lavia’s preference is understood to be an Anfield move, but Southampton might yet receive a higher bid from Stamford Bridge.

Klopp, currently on Liverpool’s pre-season trip to Singapore, acknowledged it is a matter of urgency that he finds a suitable replacement for Fabinho.

“We know that we have to do something there,” he said. “It is absolutely clear. We are working on solutions, I think everyone can imagine that.”

Liverpool had serious defensive issues for most of last season which were only resolved towards the end of the campaign.

Klopp’s contention is that was more structural than individual, the defence no longer protected because the forwards and midfielders were not pressing and counter-pressing as they did in the previous six seasons. That left Fabinho exposed and he was the subject for much criticism in the first half of the campaign. He improved when the midfield was restructured, Trent Alexander-Arnold’s hybrid role providing more energy and dynamism.

Klopp hinted that the age profile of his new No 6 should not be an issue if the line-up is functioning as it should be.

“If we defend with all the other midfielders, plus the three up front, plus the last line, really well, probably at times I could play the No 6, because then there’s not much to do anymore,” Klopp said.

“Too often we leave too much work for the No 6, that was in other moments a little bit of the problem. That’s why it’s just a general task for us to work on.”