According to Evening Standard, Southampton have set an £18 million asking fee for star midfielder Mario Lemina. The Gabonese international was linked with a move to Arsenal as well as Manchester United this summer, but both of these clubs will have to fork out the sum mentioned above if they are secure the services of this talented midfielder, with Leicester City also interested.
Lemina’s injury-ravaged spell at Southampton
Lemina initially joined Southampton in a £15.5 million move from Juventus back in 2017. But, his progress at the south coast has been marred by injuries. He featured in just 1,721 minutes of league football during his debut campaign at the club, during which, the midfielder was involved in two goals.
The ex-Juventus star suffered a similar campaign last season as his game-time was drastically restricted due to an abdominal strain that kept him out on the sidelines for almost four months. As a result, Lemina could only muster 1,614 minutes of league football, only a fraction of which came under the management of Ralph Hasenhuttl.
And the departure of Lemina could help the Austrian fund move for his transfer targets as he attempts to undergo a squad overhaul at Southampton this summer.
What can Lemina bring to the table?
Lemina is often perceived as an attack-minded midfielder, but he is, in fact, more of a box to box type of player, given his aggression and work-rate in the middle of the park. He has excellent tenacity and a willingness to win back possession for his team. But, the 25-year-old is also blessed with technical qualities, which are apparent in his ball distribution and neat footwork that allows him to drift past defenders.
However, what makes the Gabonese international such an appealing target for Arsenal and Manchester United is his versatility. Aside from his preferred holding midfield role, the Southampton star can be deployed in advanced midfield as well as the right-back position. And this makes it easier for managers to accomodate him in their respective formations.
Should Arsenal make a move for Lemina?
Lemina could be a cost-effective option in Arsenal’s bid to bolster their midfield department this summer. He can provide excellent backup for Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira in the double pivot and will provide Unai Emery with an additional option in midfield that could be important in such a long season.
But at the same time, Lemina’s injury-prone nature could be a worry for Emery. Besides, splashing a transfer fee, however small, for a player who isn’t expected to become a first-choice option in the team might not be the most prudent decision from the Spaniard given his slender budget at the Emirates this summer. Hence, Arsenal should drop their pursuit of this Southampton star, whose future at the club still hangs in the balance.
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