Wolves take a chance on Mario Lemina: Is the Nice midfielder worth the risk?

Svar Jain
By Svar Jain
6 Min Read

According to a recent article from The Times, Wolves manager Julen Lopetegui intends to make up to six new purchases in the winter transfer market. With only 13 points from their first 17 games, Wolverhampton Wanderers are now stuck at the bottom of the Premier League standings, and they might be pretty busy in January as a result.

The ever-reliable Fabrizio Romano had told that Matheus Cunha would be the club’s first winter acquisition after they successfully lured him away from Atletico Madrid on a loan agreement with a purchase clause. To permanently hire the Brazil international, Wolves will have to fork up almost €50 million (£43.8m). Despite the high cost, the transaction structure should leave Wolves with plenty of cash to work with in the coming month, allowing Lopetegui to add players in preparation for the second half of the season.

The transfer situation

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According to highly reputed TF1 journalist Saber Desfarges, OGC Nice has rejected an initial bid from Wolverhampton Wanderers for 29-year-old Gabonese midfielder Mario Lemina. But this is not the first time the Wolves have made a move for him. Wolverhampton Wanderers laid their eyes on Lemina three years ago when Southampton was willing to sell him with one year left on his contract, and Wolves did their best to work out a profitable deal.

But they couldn’t crack it as the Wolves wanted an option of a loan with a choice to buy at the end of the year while the Saints were looking for a permanent sale option. So in the summer transfer season of the same year, he was transferred to OGC nice for a fee of €5.5 million including bonuses from Southhampton.

Responding to those rumours in an interview with Get French Football News in November, the Gabonese midfielder said, “Lots of people asked a lot of questions. No one is in my head, or in the head of the coach. Today, me and Lucien Favre are on the same wavelength. I am here and I give the maximum of my capacities to be able to bring positive things to the team and that’s all that matters today. Everything that happened before is in the past. There was a lot of speculation. Today we’re 16, 17 matches in, so the main thing is that I’m here and that I’m moving forward.”

Even though Nice rejected the initial offer, a sale is still possible, and if Nice does decide to accept, personal conditions shouldn’t be an issue. Lemina is anticipated to make a hefty salary increase if he rejoins the Premier League. Lemina attended Southampton for four years before moving to Nice in the summer of 2021.

Playstyle at Southampton

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When Mario made it to Juventus’ first squad at the age of 21, many people thought it was the beginning of an outstanding career. However, following a confidence problem and several disciplinary issues, he appeared to be far from realizing his potential. But he was nothing short of fantastic since joining Southampton from Juventus for a price of £15.4 million.

The then Saints star midfielder Oriol Romeu and Lemina got along great, and their chemistry has grew quickly. The center-midfielder Southampton added in the offseason adapted remarkably fast to life in the Premier League. Because of the efforts he puts on the pitch and the influence he has on the side, Mario Lemina was the fans’ favourite at Southampton.

Notorious past

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– Mario Lemina has a history of becoming angry quite easily, both in his boyhood and in the early stages of his professional career. Since joining Southampton, this has been somewhat eliminated from his game, but it doesn’t guarantee the issue won’t come up again.

– Not just this, The Gabonese international set a record during his stay in England by receiving the biggest speeding fine ever in the UK in his first year at Southampton, which was a staggering £96,000. Lemina initially claimed that his brother or maybe his cousin was driving when the ludicrous speed was seen. However, after being informed that the fine might increase to £144,000 if he were found guilty despite pleading guilty, Lemina eventually acknowledged his wrongdoing.

– Lemina began his international career playing for France at the Under-20 and Under-21 levels despite being a Gabon native. Though he was never able to get to the senior level, in 2015, he turned down a request to represent Gabon in the Africa Cup of Nations in favor of holding out for another French selection. He changed his side to Gabon later that year because his wish to play for the French international senior team never materialized.

READ MORE: Matheus Cunha – ideal forward to kick start new era at Wolverhampton Wanderers

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