Southampton’s Mario Lemina probably wasn’t at the top of the list when it came to the names to focus on in the transfer window this summer, but two Premier League giants are battling it out for his signature.
According to a report from the Southern Daily Echo, and since confirmed by multiple outlets across the UK, both Arsenal and Manchester United, as well as Leicester City, have enquired about signing Lemina, 26, with United not yet reaching the fee Saints want.
The Gabonese central midfielder hasn’t gone on Saints’ preseason tour of Austria and has revealed he and his agent have spoken with the club and they’ve agreed he can leave if the right price is agreed for the former Marseille and Juventus man.
Saints paid $20 million for Lemina in the summer of 2017 and it is believed they want to recoup all of that and make a small profit if they sell him this summer. That would be quite a bargain for a player of his quality, as Leicester may now have backed out of any deal due to their permanent signing of midfielder Youri Tielemans.
Do United or Arsenal need to sign Lemina?
He’s a powerful, skilful central midfielder who has shown flashes of brilliance during the past two seasons at Saints, but there are question marks regarding his fitness and attitude. He missed a large chunk of last season with an abdominal injury and Saints are pretty set in central midfield without him as Oriol Romeu, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and James Ward-Prowse have all impressed under new manager Ralph Hasenhuttl.
In many ways Lemina is the odd man out at Saints, and both United and Arsenal know that which could see them grab a bit of a bargain.
United have lost Ander Herrera but still have the likes of Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay and Fred in central midfield, while the future of Paul Pogba is up in the air. Arsenal may sell Lucas Torreira this summer, while Matteo Guendouzi, Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka are their other options in the engine room after losing Aaron Ramsey on a free transfer.
So, both clubs could do with an extra body in central midfield.
Lemina has the potential to be a breakout star, if he wants to be. If a move to one of the PL’s top six fires him up, it’s a deal both United and Arsenal should do considering what $30 million buys you in this current transfer market.