In a market where transfer fees are inflated beyond belief, the asking price of around £18 million for Mario Lemina looks a smart acquisition for any Premier League club this summer.
While he has had difficulties over consistent playing time since Ralph Hasenhuttl took over from Mark Hughes last December, it does not suggest that the quality nor ability has evaded the Gabon international.
Different managers ask for different things when it comes to players and some have certain predetermined ideas of what they expect from their midfielders. Unfortunately for Lemina, he has not found himself on the right side of the fence with the Austrian coach and is, therefore, allowed to leave for the same price Southampton first recruited him for.
Manchester United, just as they have been with every other available player this summer, are linked with the former Juventus man. Some have expressed their concerns about a lack of quality, while others can see the sensibilities in bringing a profile like Lemina’s in at Old Trafford.
Marouane Fellaini left the club last January and Ander Herrera has recently joined Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer. Whether or not Paul Pogba remains or leaves this summer is irrelevant, with the bottom line being the Red Devils need at least one midfielder this summer.
Bruno Fernandes is on the list for a more attacking-minded player, but there simply has to be a Herrera replacement this summer if United are to make the top four come May next year.
The 25-year-old fits the bill in terms of his ball-playing abilities, dribbling attributes and defensive qualities, but some will always be displeased because Lemina is not a ‘big name’.
Part of the reason as to why Man United are in the rut they are in is due to targeting the bigger and more globally-appealing names of this world who disrupt the influence of the coach and create unnecessary distractions.
A huge benefit of Lemina is that he is not one of those players. Still at an age where he has plenty to give and clearly not over the hill, the Gabon international can improve United’s overall squad and also provide important versatility which sees him cover a variety of positions.
No one should be expecting Lemina to come into the Red Devils’ team and demand to be an undisputed starter. But his sense of drive on the ball would be more than welcomed when against teams that pose a low block and are hard to break down.
At £18 million, there is very little to go wrong in this deal. Manchester United need a replacement for Herrera – who can fluctuate from a defensive-minded role to an attacking one – that does not cost an arm and a leg in today’s market.
There is still plenty to be done in other positions and so a quick transaction which would see an improvement being made to the squad should be spoken about in a positive light. After all, he might just go on a rollercoaster of a journey just as Sadio Mane has before him.