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Transfer Rumours

Midfielder chooses Nice over Newcastle United despite late change of heart – Report

2 months ago
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Late Wednesday night / Thursday morning brought claims that a deal to sign Mario Lemina had been resurrected.

The Mail saying that talks were back on between Southampton and Newcastle United, with Mike Ashley having sanctioned a £4m fee for Mario Lemina.

Newcastle / Ashley having accepted that they have to ‘hurry’ if they want this deal to happen, with Ligue 1 club Nice having offered £3.5m for the midfielder who Southampton have no interest in keeping.

The Mail adding that Newcastle had made their offer of personal terms to Lemina and offered a three year contract. The expectation was that a deal can be done by the weekend if the player is convinced to make the move to Newcastle United…

Moving swiftly forward to Thursday night (tonight) and RMC journalist Loic Tanzi has reported that Mario Lemina has flown to…Nice, the midfielder having arrived in France and set to finalise a three year deal with the Ligue 1 club.

Back in June, Newcastle were in talks to sign Mario Lemina from Southampton and the outcome of those discussions between the two clubs, was that the midfielder could move to Tyneside in return for a £4m transfer fee.

However, that deal was stopped in its tracks when Mike Ashley blocked the deal, the NUFC owner said to have introduced yet another age-related transfer policy of not wanting to pay a transfer fee for any player over the age of 27. Mario Lemina turns 28 in September and Ashley had insisted a deal could only be done if it was a swap involving one or more Newcastle players in return for the midfielder, Southampton unsurprisingly not keen on Yoshinori Muto, Jeff Hendrick, or any other of the unwanted players at St James Park.

Moving five weeks on and we are now at day 44 of the transfer window and not a single NUFC signing, with seemingly Mike Ashley’s u-turn on having a willingness to actually allow some modest money to be spent, proving too little too late.

Mario Lemina is unwanted by the Saints and has just the one year left on his five year contract, so they are keen to sell and get something back for him. Southampton having paid £15m for Lemina back in 2017 from Juventus and he then started 38 Premier League matches over the course of his first two years at the south coast club, however, never really became an automatic first choice for them.

Lemina spent 2019/20 at Galatasaray on loan (19 league starts), then with Fulham for 2020/21, it was 19 Premier League starts and 11 times named on the bench as the Cottagers were relegated.

Newcastle United have been looking for a box to box midfielder for some time and as well as that favoured position in the middle of the pitch, Mario Lemina can also play on the right as a winger, a full back, or as a wing back, whilst he has also played as one of three centre backs in a three / five man defence.

Another concern is that at Marseille, Lemina only started 25 Ligue 1 games in two years, before making only 15 Serie A starts for Juventus in two years, so only the 40 league starts in the four years immediately before joining Southampton.

However, with Mike Ashley set to only allow minimal, if any, spending it appears even buying a cheap and cheerful unwanted Southampton reserve remains beyond us.

There are claims elsewhere that Southampton will use the Lemina transfer fee to go towards an offer to buy Adam Armstrong from Blackburn. A deal that would ironically see Newcastle receive more cash than Southampton wanted for Mario Lemina, as a sell-on clause exists giving NUFC a significant percentage of any Armstrong sale.

With Newcastle not able to compete with Brentford for Celtic’s Kristoffer Ajer and not even able to make any attempt to buy Joe Willock, this reported failure to land Mario Lemina ahead of Nice sums up a transfer window that appears to hold zero relief for Newcastle United fans…

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