An update has emerged regarding Newcastle’s interest in Southampton midfielder Mario Lemina.
According to the Daily Mail, the Tyneside club are interested in securing a deal for the Saints outcast this summer. Magpies boss Steve Bruce is plotting to improve his squad and has identified Lemina as a target.
Hampshire Live followed up on this report by revealing that Southampton intend to cash in on the Gabon international this summer as he is not a part of Ralph Hasenhuttl’s plans. Fulham held an option to sign him permanently if they stayed up last season.
During Lemina’s first season at Southampton, BBC pundit Garth Crooks waxed lyrical about the powerhouse of a midfielder.
He told BBC Sport, as transcribed by the Daily Express: “My goodness, this lad looks a powerhouse. I suppose when you’ve played for one of the biggest clubs in the world in Juventus, you should have all the tools to survive in any league.
“The former Juve man was composed on the ball and timely in the tackle – and for a holding midfielder, he was very capable of hurting the opposition.
“Lemina is a top-four player in my opinion and fair play to Southampton for making the purchase.”
Southampton owner Gao Jisheng would surely love it if Lemina sealed a permanent transfer away from St Mary’s, whether it be to Newcastle or any other club. The 27-year-old is said to be on £64,000 per week at the Saints and that is a sizeable chunk of money that Gao is having to pay the midfielder per season – around £3.3m.
That sum could instead be used to bring another signing through the door or to extend a current star’s contract to keep them at the club, which is why selling him could be a major boost to the Saints and Gao. Therefore, Southampton must ruthlessly axe Lemina from the club this summer and Martin Semmens needs to do whatever he can to ensure that the Gabon midfielder is sold permanently.
If Newcastle are able to provide a respectable transfer fee, then he should be sold and the funds should be reinvested into other areas of the squad or to improve the facilities at Staplewood in order to progress on and off the pitch as a club.
The former Juventus man did not show enough during his time with Fulham to suggest that he could come back to Southampton and stake a claim for a starting berth. He averaged an unimpressive WhoScored rating of 6.60 in 28 Premier League appearances for the Cottagers as they were relegated straight back down to the Championship.
Oriol Romeu and James Ward-Prowse, meanwhile, scored 6.93 and 7.07 respectively for the Saints in the top flight. This shows that Lemina is not good enough to replace either of them, which is another reason he should be axed from the squad.