Late last month, it was reported that Mike Ashley had nixed a £4m move for Southampton midfielder Mario Lemina due to him turning 28 in September.
Newcastle had been monitoring Lemina’s situation for months with Steve Nickson personally scouting him during a match in May. He was on loan with a purchase option at Fulham, who failed to beat the drop ending any chance of making the deal permanent.
The Gabon international is back at Southampton with an uncertain future. He’s entering the final year of the five-year contract he signed in 2017 when he joined from Juventus for a then-record fee for the Saints.
He’s spent the previous two seasons out on loan with no future at St Mary’s. Newcastle made their move last month with talks of a swap deal. However, Southampton only wanted a cash deal which Ashley was unwilling to sanction.
The Mail is reporting that Newcastle have reopened talks for the midfielder with Ashley having been persuaded to soften his stance. Discussions were held on Wednesday over a £4m deal. Newcastle are offering a three-year contract to Lemina.
It could come down to terms as Nice has a standing offer of £3.5m on the table. Newcastle are currently trying to tempt him to Tyneside to bolster Steve Bruce’s midfield options.
On Sunday, Bruce expressed concern about the position saying the following:
“We’re very, very short in the middle of the park at the minute. Very, very short.
“It’s something we need to address.”
Newcastle are still waiting on a decision from Arsenal over a Joe Willock loan move. There have also been reports of talks with Chelsea for Conor Gallagher and Midtjylland over Jens Cajuste, who is rated at between £11-13m.
Bruce revealed there were a few things ‘bubbling away’ in addition to Willock after the York City friendly. This move for Lemina could be one of the targets Bruce was referencing as he seems focused on midfield additions at the moment.
Earlier on Wednesday, Brentford announced their record signing of Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer on a five-year deal. He was reportedly one of Newcastle’s top defensive targets.
? Kris joins on a five-year deal from Celtic and becomes our second signing of the summer
— Brentford FC (@BrentfordFC) July 21, 2021
Maybe this u-turn by Ashley on Lemina indicates a slight change in transfer plans this summer after the adjournment of the arbitration hearing to early next year. Hopefully, that’s the case and we can get some sorely-needed new faces through the door.