Mario Lemina has expressed his eagerness to get back to helping Southampton return to where they should be in the Premier League after a season of battling relegation.
The 25-year-old has been sidelined since Southampton’s 3-1 defeat to Manchester City at St. Mary’s in the final game of 2018, but returned against Newcastle United at the weekend.
Speaking to the club’s official website after full-time, he expressed how he is itching to help the Saints finish the campaign strongly.
I was really happy to be part of this game because I have not played since December, which is really frustrating. The manager has come and I only played two games with him. I have seen other players doing well and step up their level. I was on my own trying to come back – now I am back, I will try to help the team get to 40 points. In the end, I am really happy to be back on the team. I need to work really hard to be part of the last four games.
It also finished in a 3-1 loss at St. James’ Park, but Lemina scored a cracking goal which sparked excitement about his return amongst the fanbase.
Hasenhuttl has found a favoured midfield three of Oriol Romeu, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and James Ward-Prowse, but the former Juventus man is certainly good enough to enter the picture straight away.
What Lemina's return offers Southampton
Pace and power are Lemina’s two most-prized assets. In such a physical league and at such an important stage, he could prove crucial in grinding out wins.
Experience at a high level
Juventus isn’t a small club and the way he shined as part of the Saints’ relegation battle last term was a clear indicator of the strong mentality he brought with him from Turin.
Competition for places
Lemina’s return gives Hasenhuttl a selection headache… but a good one. Ward-Prowse, Hojbjerg and Romeu have done well under new management, and Lemina offers competition that should only result in higher performance levels.
Favours Hasenhuttl's style
Even though Lemina has barely had chance to feature under Hasenhuttl, his traits which include bursts of pace and dribbling ability in midfield suggest he’ll fit the system perfectly.