Southampton may have managed to avoid the drop late last season but Mark Hughes now has a tough task in retaining the core of the squad, which is important to hit the ground running next season. However, they are now in danger of losing one of their first team stars in Mario Lemina.
The Gabon international showed great promise in the Premier League and was crucial to Southampton’s plans last season. He made 21 starts and his performances have now impressed Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.
The Spaniard has recently missed out on the services of Italian ace Jorginho and reports now suggest that the Southampton midfielder is being eyed as an alternative for Jorginho at the Etihad. If they do lose Lemina, how can the Saints replace him? Here are three players Mark Hughes should target if they lose Lemina this summer:
Andreas Samaris (SL Benfica):
The Greek international has been at Benfica for four years now and has shown gradual progress with each year. He has been a regular in the first team in the last couple of seasons and was one of the most consistent players in Liga NOS last season. He is technically as good as Lemina and has been linked with a move to St Mary’s earlier this summer. At 29, he is experienced and will make an immediate impact on the squad and could help Hughes settle in well next season.
Marko Grujic (Liverpool):
The Serbian international has struggled for game time at Anfield but showed great tenacity in his loan stint with Cardiff City in the second half of the last campaign. He will not feature in the first team next season either and is surely up for grabs on a loan deal this summer. He was a fan favourite at Cardiff and could have a similar impact on the squad at St Mary’s next season.
Joe Allen (Stoke City):
Though not defensively as effective as Lemina, Allen is an established midfielder, who can do a decent job for Southampton. He has previously worked with Hughes at Stoke City and will take no time to settle in St Mary’s. He is still 28 and has a fair number of years at the top of his game, left under his belt and is available for just £25m after the Potters were relegated last season. He will be an impact buy and could be a genuine match winner for the Saints, for years to come.
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