The deal for Newcastle United to sign Mario Lemina may have been unlocked after Southampton registered their interest in Isaac Hayden, according to a report.
Lemina is entering the final year of his contract at Southampton and is keen for a new challenge after spending last season on loan with Fulham. His temporary club may have suffered relegation, but he at least got consistent gametime. With no room left for him on the South Coast, though, he may head north.
Newcastle have been regularly linked with Lemina as they look to strengthen in midfield. They had Joe Willock on loan from Arsenal in the second half of last season, who made a brilliant impression. However, they may not be able to afford his permanent signature.
It has sent them back to the drawing board as they look to improve a squad that eventually rose to mid-table last season, thanks largely to Willock’s impact.
Lemina is someone they are looking at, but a recent report cast doubt on their chances of signing him. Mike Ashley reportedly did not want to offer a long-term deal to a player who would have little resale value at the age of 27, even though the transfer may only cost £4m.
However, talk of a move to St James’ Park has now been revived. According to the Daily Mail, Southampton want to sign Newcastle midfielder Hayden – so could send Lemina in the opposite direction.
Hayden has been with Newcastle since 2016, helping them gain promotion to the Premier League in his first season. He has never topped 30 appearances in a top-flight season, though; last season he started 22 league games.
Hayden is under a long-term contract until 2026, but Southampton are now trying to prise him away. In fact, the Mail say they are already in talks.
Newcastle want £12m for Hayden, whereas Lemina remains valued at £8m. Hence, a deal would benefit the Magpies financially.
Whether it will be enough for Ashley to reconsider his stance remains to be seen.
There is also rival interest in Lemina from Nice in France, so they may have to speed up their pursuit if he gives the green light.