FORMER Saints starlet Romeo Lavia has been ruled out for the rest of the season through injury, it has been confirmed. 

The 20 year old has played just 32 minutes for Chelsea this campaign following a mega-money summer transfer.

He will not recover in time to play again before the end of the term due to a thigh injury sustained on his one appearance for the club.

Lavia was voted the Southern Daily Echo's 2022-23 Player of the Year in his only season at the club.

He made 29 Premier League appearances for Saints, scoring his only goal against the Blues on a night he also picked up a hamstring injury. 

Daily Echo: Romeo Lavia has battled injury problems already in his careerRomeo Lavia has battled injury problems already in his career

The one-cap Belgian international was on the verge of making the World Cup squad in 2022 before he was made unavailable. 

Lavia missed nine matches due to the concern but that was nothing compared to what he has suffered at Stamford Bridge. 

Following the club's relegation from the Premier League, Lavia was one of several players to make clear his ambition to leave. 

He partook in pre-season but teammates worked themselves ahead of him while he waited for a move to come to fruition. 

Speaking about Lavia and James Ward-Prowse, Russell Martin said: “Do I think they will be Southampton players by the end of the window?

"I have not got a clue. What I hope and what I think are probably very different.”

Daily Echo: Romeo Lavia and former Man City teammate Shea Charles in pre-seasonRomeo Lavia and former Man City teammate Shea Charles in pre-season (Image: Richard Crease)

Lavia cost Saints just over £10million to acquire from Manchester City, where he had been scouted from Anderlecht at the age of 16. 

Much maligned Sport Republic boss Rasmus Ankersen negotiated Lavia's exit and produced a masterclass for the books. 

Liverpool liked the likely destination before the Blues bid at the 11th hour, as first reported by the Daily Echo​. 

Chelsea agreed to pay £53million for the youngster, with a portion of that being paid back to Man City due to a sell-on clause. 

Lavia twisted his ankle in team training in the summer and had to wait until December for his club debut. 

He already faced a stern test getting into the Chelsea team, with £200million worth of midfielders in Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo alone. 

Blues boss Mauricio Pochettino does award minutes to young players despite the league's biggest spenders struggling this season. 

Daily Echo: Romeo Lavia has made only one appearance for Chelsea since a summer moveRomeo Lavia has made only one appearance for Chelsea since a summer move (Image: PA)

Talking about Lavia, he said: "He is doing well but he still needs time for his best form. All of the players after a big period, they are desperate to be involved.

"Even a message for the player, they cannot make the mistake. They want to be involved but we are competition and the competition is serious.

‘They need to train really hard every day, because they need to have an impact every time they go onto the pitch. It’s not pre-season games." 

Having signed a seven-year contract, keeping him secure until 2030, Lavia is already set for life financially. 

His motivation now is only to fulfil his vast potential, with any chances of making EURO 2024 for Belgium undone. 

Getting back fit for pre-season will be essential - whether it is Pochettino or a new boss in charge at Chelsea's Cobham centre.