Mario Lemina could be heading for the Southampton exit door this summer after admitting it might be time for a new challenge.
Lemina, who joined the Saints from Juventus back in 2017, missed a lot of last season due to injury and has since told the club he wants to start afresh elsewhere.
“The last four months have not been easy for me, with my injury. The coach put his team together. I want to start afresh. So why not leave?,” the 25-year-old was quoted as saying by the Daily Mirror.
“We have very good discussions with the club. We are in agreement. If I don’t feel good in this project, I can leave. They are giving me the opportunity to be able to go elsewhere.”
Lemina did not always feature last season due to that abdominal injury he picked up but, when he did play, his impact could arguably be felt.
With 1.1 dribbles per game in the Premier League, only Nathan Redmond averaged more in Ralph Hasenhuttl’s squad, while his 86% pass success rate was better than what any other active Southampton midfielder averaged (as per WhoScored).
Bearing that in mind, should Lemina depart St. Mary’s this summer, it could mean even more responsibility for another midfield man in Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
Last season, the 23-year-old was handed the captaincy by Hasenhuttl, something he spoke about with the Daily Echo in May, and could now be expected to carry out some of the tasks Lemina does whenever he is in the team.
For example, ball carrying. With 0.7 dribbles per game, Hojbjerg was the second best regular midfielder behind Lemina when it came to dribbling. Hasenhuttl will surely be expecting the Denmark international to help the team transition by collecting the ball and trying to drive through the midfield with it in a post-Lemina era if that is anything to go by.
At 82.9%, Hojbjerg also had the second highest pass success rate out of Southampton’s current crop of midfielders, with only Lemina averaging more at 86%. Like with dribbling, there could easily be more of an emphasis on Hojbjerg when it comes to someone needing to retain possession, with the previous pointing towards the former Bayern Munich player being that man.
Lemina leaves and Hojbjerg could find himself taking on even more responsibility at St. Mary’s.
Southampton fans, will Lemina leave this window? And if he does, what does it mean for Hojbjerg and co? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!