Southampton midfielder Mario Lemina, who had been a transfer target for Wolves, looks likely to finalise a loan move to Monaco in the coming days.
French media outlet RMC Sport reported [via Birmingham Live] that a deal had been agreed to take the 25-year-old to the Ligue 1 club and that he has agreed personal terms over a potential loan-to-buy deal.
According to Birmingham Live, Nuno Espirito Santo had hoped to bring Lemina to Molineux this summer, only for the move to fall through.
Birmingham Live claimed that Southampton wanted to include an obligation to buy as part of the deal, but Wolves were reluctant to agree to that arrangement and wanted an obligation to only apply based on the number of appearances made.
However, with the Gabon international telling Foot Mercato last month that he would not rule out the possibility of leaving St Mary’s, he hasn’t featured in either of the Saints’ matchday squads for their opening two Premier League games against Burnley and Liverpool.
Lemina had an impressive 86% passing success rate for the south coast club last season and averaged 1.1 dribbles per game, indicating that he is comfortable with keeping possession ticking over as well as taking on opponents directly.
At Wolves, Ruben Neves and Leander Dendoncker play in a similar defensive midfield role to Lemina and, while the former produced a superb strike to earn a draw against Manchester United this week, neither player comes close to Lemina for passing accuracy, with Dendoncker’s having a passing success rate of 75.5% and Neves just 71.1% in the opening two games of the season.
Lemina averaged more interceptions per game last season than Neves (1.5 per game) and Dendoncker (one per game) have had so far in 2019/20, although the Portugal midfielder has won five tackles in Wolves’ first two Premier League matches (2.5 per game).
Although Neves has taken just five games this season to match the two-goal tally that Lemina has racked up from his 52 matches for Southampton, the Gabon midfielder could have atoned for his lack of goals by bringing a greater ball retention ability and a demonstrable aptitude for breaking up opposition attacks had he joined Wolves.
Also, with Romain Saiss close to agreeing a move to Besiktas, as reported by Beyaz TV [via Sporx.com], Nuno would then have just two defensive midfielders at the club, which would make it all the more galling that they couldn’t finalise a deal for the industrious Lemina.
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