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Southampton have officially made Mario Lemina a part of their team, bringing him from Juventus in a club record deal of £18m; £16m up front and £2m in add-ons after Arsene Wenger halted Arsenal’s move to sign him earlier in the summer.
The 23-year-old was previously linked with Arsenal, reportedly identified by the club at the end of the previous season as a player who would greatly improve the side, and even had scouts from north London fly over to watch him in action ahead of a possible deal.
However, Wenger allegedly stopped the move, instead choosing to improve the team by signing Sead Kolasinac after his deal expired at Schalke and £52m Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon.
The manager’s blocking of the move meant that Southampton were free to go ahead and make an offer to sign the player from Juventus.
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) August 8, 2017
The Saints have now signed the defensive midfielder for a bargain price.
“Mario is an outstanding talent who has already achieved a great deal in his career, winning a number of titles and gaining experience of playing on some of the biggest stages in world football,” the Southampton vice chairman, Les Reed, said.
“Investing in a player of Mario’s quality and buying from a club like Juventus is a significant statement of intent from the club and this is a purchase that has set another club-record fee.
“Mario still has his best years ahead of him and we believe he will not only be an excellent acquisition for us in the immediate future but that he will also be able to realise even more of his potential here in the years to come.”
Lemina appeared in just eight games for the Old Lady last season and made 29 appearances across all competitions, finding the net just once and providing assist once in Serie A.
He moved to Italy from Marseille in 2015, after making 41 appearances for the Ligue 1 side.
He’s been capped six times for Gabon’s national team after representing France up until an u21 level.
Did Wenger commit an error by not signing Lemina? Or was he right to stick to his guns and not sign a player that he didn’t believe has any potential needed at Arsenal? Time will tell.