Despite your initial misgivings on reading the title to this blog, the fact that Arsenal are reported to be in competition with Ole Gunner Solskjær’s United, as part of a rebuilding project, should indicate that although the player involved isn’t a global superstar, he has a number of pluses apart from being cheap. We are talking about Mario Lemina.
Mario Lemina (25) is hardly likely to be a regular on the list of candidates for the Ballon d’Or but he is a player that every side needs.
In a team game, Lemina is the player that works tirelessly, covering distance during a game. He is as adept at building an attack as he is retrieving a lost cause and will add bite and endeavour to the midfield.
The only draw back has been the player’s combustible temperament, which has seen him create the majority of his own problems, but his CV contains clubs with football pedigree.
Mario Lemina: Of the 76 players to attempt 90+ dribbles, only Mousa Dembele (84.3%) has a better dribble success rate than @LeminaM_13 (79.6%) since the start of the 2017/18 Premier League season
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) July 9, 2019
From his humble beginnings at FC Lorient, he moved to Marseille and Juventus before heading to Southampton. The problem for him has been in establishing himself in a side that showcases his talents, but it appears that the likes of Unai Emery and Mike Phelan are excited by the Congolese midfielder and the versatility he possesses could make him a valuable asset.
He is the equivalent of a football Swiss Army knife, able to play in a number of key positions including winger, wing back, defensive midfielder and even centre-back, which would be useful with Arsenal’s record of clocking up mid season defensive casualties. Especially as the club has not reinforced in that particular area of concern at present.
Mario Lemina is certainly the type of player that fits Unai Emery’s football profile. Attacking but hard working, committed to it without the trappings of superstar status and willing to adapt and embrace instructions rather than meet their own narcissistic needs.
It would also serve the player well in the sense that he would be embraced into a changing side where he could make his mark and maximise his untapped potential.
I know that some of you are reading this and sighing heavily, thinking that it’s just another case of going cheap, but we’ve seen that it’s sometimes easier to mould a player than buy an established nuisance that upsets the Applecart or one that plays within themselves for their own gain.
How many times has a relatively unknown name made an impact with a previously bland CV.
Ayoze Pérez was playing for Tenerife before Rafa Benitez plucked him from obscurity to play for Newcastle. He has since hit the jackpot in his transfer to Leicester, whilst managing to show his talent in the best league in the World.
The likes of Pogba, Ozil and Sanchez bring a truck full of baggage and although they look impressive on paper, their subsequent transfers and performances have shown that there is something to be said for out of the box thinking.
It may well be a case of just another name linked with two clubs that need to rebuild, but I’m thinking that Arsenal need players with Aaron Ramsey’s mentality. Someone that may not always grab the headlines but someone, who can make the team more solid, practical and whole.
Is Mario Lemina that player ? The jury is obviously out because he has failed to nail down a regular slot at Southampton, but he could cost as little as €15m, so the gamble would be minimal.
Yet at the same time, he is an upgrade on Arsenal’s existing eclectic mixture of substandard Sunday league misfits.