Newcastle are interested in signing Southampton midfielder Mario Lemina this summer amid speculation that he could leave St Mary’s on a permanent basis.
What’s the story?
Magpies boss Steve Bruce has already confirmed that the club will be looking to sign Joe Willock on a permanent deal from Arsenal in the summer, but it now appears that they have their sights set on another central midfielder in Lemina.
The Guardian claimed that the Gabon international, currently on loan at fellow Premier League side Fulham, is understood to be available for around £7m and that he is not a part of Ralph Hasenhuttl’s plans.
Worse than Shelvey
Ever since Garth Crooks raved about the £65,000-a-week earning Lemina in his early spell in English football, things have gone downhill for the midfielder.
The BBC Sport pundit said: “My goodness, this lad looks a powerhouse. I suppose when you’ve played for one of the biggest clubs in the world in Juventus, you should have all the tools to survive in any league.
“The former Juve man was composed on the ball and timely in the tackle – and for a holding midfielder, he was very capable of hurting the opposition. Lemina is a top-four player in my opinion.”
Lemina is now a player for a team looking set to go back down to the Championship at the first time of asking, and his performances for the Cottagers this season have been nothing short of disappointing.
As per WhoScored, the box-to-box midfielder has averaged just 0.6 shots, 0.5 key passes and 0.9 dribbles per game in the Premier League, scoring just once and providing no assists whatsoever.
In fact, if you compare that to Jonjo Shelvey – who has come under fire from some Newcastle supporters before – it’s actually far worse. The Magpies ace has three goal contributions to his name while averaging 1.4 shots and 1.3 key passes per game, and his dribbling average of 0.7 per match is only slightly inferior to the 27-year-old.
What Newcastle desperately need this summer is proven quality or someone with real potential like Willock, for example. What they don’t need at all is a player like Lemina who appears to have just coasted through the season and is yet to show anything like the kind of ability which prompted Crooks to call him a “top-four player”.