Southampton have signed midfielder Mario Lemina from Juventus for a club-record fee believed to be in the region of $23.3 million.
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Lemina, 23, has signed a five year deal at Saints and the Gabonese midfielder could make his debut this Saturday in Southampton’s Premier League opener against Swansea City at St. Mary’s.
The box-to-box midfielder has spent the past two seasons with Juve winning back-to-back Serie A and Coppa Italia titles, while he spent three seasons with Marseille before that.
“I am really happy to have signed for Southampton. I think that it was the project that attracted me the most and the one my family was really behind. I am really happy to be here,” Lemina said.
Southampton’s vice-chairman Les Reed also had the following to say about Lemina’s arrival.
“Mario still has his best years ahead of him, and we believe that he will not only be an excellent acquisition for us in the immediate future, but that he will also be able to realize even more of his potential here in the years to come,” Reed said. “In a volatile market with some extraordinary and inexplicable transfers taking place, we are determined to go about our work in a diligent and correct way. This is a player who has won trophies and played in the Champions League final less than three months ago and he has signed for Saints amid a host of suitors.”
Lamina becomes Mauricio Pellegrino‘s second signing as Saints boss with Polish center back Jan Bednarek, 21, joining earlier this summer for $6.4 million. Saints’ previous record transfer deal was for Sofiane Boufal last summer as he arrived for $20.7 million.
With Virgil Van Dijk‘s future up in the air after he released a statement on Monday stating he has handed in a formal transfer request, Southampton’s fans can at least be excited about Lemina’s arrival.
He is a player who loves to break up the play and start attacks and he should dovetail nicely alongside Oriol Romeu in central midfield for Saints. Following Lamina’s arrival the likes of Steven Davis, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Jordy Clasie may now be scrapping for minutes.
Southampton, Liverpool and West Ham were previously linked with Lamine two years ago, but he instead joined Juve, initially on loan and then permanently, and played 110 times for La Vecchia Signora, scoring five times. Lemina has UEFA Champions League experience (he came on as a sub in Juve’s UCL final defeat to Real Madrid last season) and it was reported that Stoke City were also pushing hard to sign him.
A definite coup for Southampton.