Newcastle United offer 3 year contract to Saints midfielder as Mike Ashley relents – Report
Only a couple of weeks into this 2021 summer transfer window, it looked as though Newcastle United were to make a very early signing by Mike Ashley standards.
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 Mail revealing that the NUFC owner had 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 BUT now news that Mike Ashley has relented!
The Mail reporting that the Newcastle United owner has been persuaded that the situation is so desperate at St James Park, that his new strict age related policy has to make an exception.
The report saying that talks are 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 say that Newcastle have made their offer of personal terms to Lemina and offered a three year contract. The expectation is that a deal can be done by the weekend if the player is convinced to make the move to Newcastle United.
For anybody expecting great things, or even not so great things, from this Newcastle United transfer window, this is a wake up call. Mike Ashley so resistant to allowing any kind of essential strengthening of the NUFC squad this summer, that even a relatively cheap and cheerful transfer by Premier League standards such as this one, is so difficult to get past the club’s owner.
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.
This transfer window was always looking a disaster waiting to happen, with Mike Ashley widely reported to be limiting any spending to a bare minimum, with mainly (entirely?) a reliance on frees and loans.
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.
With Mike Ashley set to make only very limited funds available, this is the kind of bargain basement signing you could have seen happening, a versatile player who can also fill in at various positions but mainly who could hopefully give Newcastle more mobility and drive in the middle of the pitch. A bit of a worry though that he could only get 19 PL starts for a Fulham side who were relegated long before the end of the season.
Also, not a player who is going to create or score a lot of goals, as in his entire first team club career, Mario Lemina has only managed eight goals in league games and three assists.
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.
The idea of Mike Ashley allowing Newcastle to pay £25m or £30m for Joe Willock was always laughable in my opinion, even if the midfielder was willing to come to Tyneside on a permanent deal.
When it is such a struggle due to Mike Ashley, for Newcastle to get a deal like Mario Lemina over the line, a player who is unwanted by Southampton and available for only £4m, then you do really have to worry about this season ahead and the state of the squad as we head into it.
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