Arsenal have been credited with interest in Mario Lemina of Southampton, courtesy of The Telegraph.
Having started his professional career in Ligue 1 with Lorient back in 2012/13, Lemina moved to Olympique Marseille after two seasons , and his 50 performances – most of those very good – earned him a transfer to Juventus. The midfielder went there initially on loan, but the move was made permanent before the 2015/16 season had ended.
Then, however, things started going a bit downhill for him and a year later he ended up at Southampton. He picked up a number of injuries which hampered his further progress both at the Allianz Stadium in Turin and at St. Mary’s, and the Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl was forced to make arrangements in a way that made the absence of Lemina more than bearable.
Obviously feeling unneeded given such a development, the 25-year-old has informed the manager that he wants to leave the club, and Southampton have no issues with his request. They only ask for the money they paid for his services, said to be around £18 million, to be matched by a potential suitor.
Lemina is a player who covers a lot of ground in a game. He is usually deployed at the very heart of the team, always looking to get on the ball, move it forward and create something. He is, however, very versatile and can be deployed, if need be, in any role out wide. He has even played at centre-back.
His talent is very clear to see, but all is not as simple as that. He is also known for his short temper and occasional lack of discipline, as well as lack of consistency.
Quite apart from that, there is a question posing itself here: should a club like Arsenal be looking to sign a player who has no place in the starting XI?
It’s certainly not unheard of that a player pines at a club due to some form of mismanagement and flourishes somewhere else, and if the Gunners do end up signing him, it is to be hoped that would prove the case, because he obviously hasn’t shown a lot to be considered good enough for Arsenal, who are looking at him as a possible replacement for Aaron Ramsey.
Meanwhile, Manchester United have also cast their eye on Lemina. Ander Herrera left Old Trafford this summer as a free agent and has now joined Paris Saint-Germain, and the future of Paul Pogba doesn’t seem to be anywhere near resolved at this point. They therefore need midfield reinforcements, perhaps even more than Arsenal.