Why a Man United move for Mario Lemina makes sense
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Manchester United have been linked with well over 100 footballers during this summer transfer window, with the rumour-mill firmly in full flow. Recently, Southampton's Mario Lemina was mentioned with a potential Old Trafford switch. Understandably, eyebrows were raised amongst Red Devils supporters.
My initial thought was one of shock. On the face of it, without sounding too arrogant, why would the 20-time Premier League champions be chasing a player who couldn't nail down a place at a mid-table side? It just didn't make sense.
However, the deeper I delved I had a change in heart. My first issue came as I was viewing Lemina as a potential Paul Pogba replacement. It does feel as though the mercurial Frenchman could be on his way out before next month's transfer deadline, and seeing both names in the headlines simultaneously left me confused. That was before I remembered United are yet to replace Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera - both have departed from the Red Devils over the last six months. Not only is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's midfield lacking in quality, it's also seriously deprived of quantity.
Here's why Lemina fits in like a glove. United wasn't willing to pay Herrera a mega-money contract, and although he had an excellent rapport with the supporters, he was never more than a six or seven out of ten player. The Basque's biggest selling point was his constant movement and busy nature while possessing decent enough on-ball ability to make the difference. Check out the video below, Lemina's highlights are almost identical to what a Herrera compilation would look like...
It's that coolness and calmness in possession that United have actually missed over the last few seasons. If anything, the 25-year-old Lemina is probably too chilled when on the ball. The Southampton man has excellent vision while possessing the ability to execute the pass. Lemina's also not shy to take on the long-shot, which again, Pogba aside, the Reds don't really have in abundance... What's not to like about his style? After all, the Gabon international did spend three years at Juventus, the talent is blatantly there.
Even the transfer fee makes for pleasant reading. In today's game, the money involved in transfers between two Premier League sides can get a bit ridiculous. Danny Drinkwater's £35million move to Chelsea from Leicester is probably the best recent example of that. Well, if you believe reports, Lemina would set United back around £18million. For a player who's yet to reach his prime, that's pretty cheap...
So what's the problem? Why are Southampton looking to get rid, so-much-so that Lemina was left out of the Southampton squad that is currently touring Austria? Well, injuries haven't help. In fact, the midfielder has spent a combined 134 days on the treatment table since moving to the South Coast in 2017. Another major factor has been inconsistency in his performances, but working under three different managers over a three-year span definitely doesn't help in that regard.
All-in-all, I like it. Lemina's game will only improve by playing alongside a better quality of teammates and he certainly has the swagger and temperament to succeed at the very top. Who knows, a move to Old Trafford could be his big career breakthrough and he'd certainly get ample playing time if he's the only midfielder signed by Solskjaer this summer.