Besiktas make move for Saints midfielder
Besiktas officials are heading to England to discuss a deal for Southampton’s out-of-favour midfielder Mario Lemina.
Reports in Turkey claim the Istanbul giants have made a bid for the Gabon international, although it could just be for a loan initially.
Southampton are looking to recoup as much of the £18.1 million that they spent on Lemina as possible and could see a late transfer window bidding war break out as overseas clubs scramble to bring in talent before the window shuts.
Roma and Lyon were reported to have entered the race to sign the 25-year-old last week – and Besiktas are now the 11th club to be linked to him this summer.
Arsenal and Manchester United were the first names to be associated with him when it became clear Ralph Hasenhuttl had no place for him in his first-team plans.
Wolves, Leicester City and Everton were also linked prior to the English transfer window shutting in early August.
Roma, Lyon, Celta Vigo, Sevilla and Monaco have shown interest more recently.
Hasenhuttl admitted Lemina was likely to leave the club before the European transfer window closes on September 2.
Lemina was closing in on a season-long loan move to Monaco, but the Principality club only want to include an obligation to buy clause if they ultimately finish above a certain position in Ligue 1.
Saints would prefer the deal to become permanent next summer regardless of where Monaco end up this season.
The impasse in the Monaco talks has let in other clubs to make their moves with Besiktas the latest.
Besiktas coach Abdullah Avci has given his blessing to the pursuit of the ex-Juventus star, although reports claim the Turkish club have an alternative target lined up just in case they can’t get Lemina – Roma’s Maxime Gonalons.
Saints won more matches without Lemina in their line-up last season than they did when he played, and conceded significantly fewer goals while scoring more.
Southampton with and without Mario Lemina starting in the Premier League last season
For more player stats — https://t.co/ay65wfREGT pic.twitter.com/IVV1FKhmxw
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) July 25, 2019
In the Premier League, he contributed one goal and one assist in each of his two seasons with the club.