Mario Lemina is on the verge of leaving Southampton for Nice, according to reports – seemingly ending any prospect of him joining Newcastle instead.
Lemina has been with Southampton since 2017, when they made him their club-record signing. His move hasn’t all gone to plan, though; he spent two seasons with the first team but has been out on loan for the last two years. Now, with one year left on his contract, Southampton are set to sell him.
After spending the previous season with Fulham, there were rumours that Lemina could stay in the Premier League. Newcastle seemed to be the most interested party. Their hopes of signing him may have been boosted when Southampton took an interest in their own Isaac Hayden.
However, Mike Ashley remained reluctant to pay Lemina’s low asking price, because he would have little re-sale value. Thus, the midfielder has had to seek another solution – and he appears to have found it.
The Ligue 1 outfit have agreed a fee of £4.7m with Southampton and Lemina will sign a three-year contract.
While Newcastle were interested, the Mail say that a pitch from new Nice boss Christophe Galtier – who led Lille to the Ligue 1 title last season – convinced the Gabon international.
The Athletic add that Watford were also keen, while he would have stayed at Fulham if they had not been relegated.
Southampton have had to settle for a lower fee than they would have liked due to Lemina’s contractual situation. They preferably wanted £8m, but have instead accepted £4.7m (€5.5m) including add-ons from Nice.
Saints braced for Ings bid
Another player in the final year of his contract at Southampton is Danny Ings – although they are far less keen on the idea of selling him.
The former Liverpool striker is eager to take his last chance of proving himself at the highest level again. His preference would be to join either Manchester club, but instead, Tottenham look the likeliest to make a move.
Eurosport claimed recently that Daniel Levy plans to offer a deal lower than the £20million Southampton are chasing. That is not an unusual tactic for the Spurs chairman, who will hope that the two teams can meet somewhere in the middle.
The ploy was used when Tottenham signed Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg from St Mary’s last summer. They eventually landed the Denmark star for just £15million.
Ings has so far refused to sign a new deal on the south coast. That has left Southampton in a difficult situation, as the 28-year-old can leave on a free next summer.
With that in mind, Spurs are trying their luck to see if they can sign Ings in a bargain deal.