Mario Lemina struggled in his time on the south coast and the decision to let him leave on loan was probably the right call, or at least an understandable one to make.
The Italian made 52 appearances in his two years at St. Mary’s without ever really living up to his price tag of £18.1m, as he scored two goals and made two assists, achieving a WhoScored average rating of 6.8 for his performances in 2018/19.
Ralph Hasenhuttl clearly didn’t favour him, and soon made James Ward-Prowse a key player in his team, a role he has maintained this season too.
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The Saints are rather light in centre-midfield options though, and since Lemina has recaptured some form at Galatasaray he should still be in the mind of the Austrian.
A recall option may be off the table but when summer comes the 26-year-old deserves another chance to prove that he can cut it in the Premier League. That’s if his loan club don’t take up their option to buy the midfielder.
After all, he has appeared in the Champions League four times this season and not looked out of place, even managing a pass accuracy of 98% against PSG, for example.
His passing game has always been a strength, and an average of 39 passes per league game show how he likes to get involved to help his team dominate play, and that is something Southampton have missed out on – averaging 47% possession in the league.
In recent games, Hasenhuttl has found a balance in the middle of the pitch by playing Ward-Prowse alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, but prior to that it was Oriol Romeu who often partnered the Dane.
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That pair may be strong in the tackle and effective at limiting space for the opposition, but they lack technical ability and their passing can often let the team down, particularly Romeu who has a pass accuracy of just 78%.
Lemina would complement either player and likely improve Southampton in possession. Playing regularly in a side which won the league last year should be building his confidence and return him to a player who was priced as high as he was.
The Saints, therefore, should eagerly be anticipating his return, and his impact could be like having a new signing.
In other Southampton news, Hasenhuttl faces a dilemma in regard to the Chelsea match and what to do with Danny Ings.