Southampton are ready to let Mario Lemina leave the club this summer.
The news has been met by mixed responses from the Saints supporters, with opinions divided on the enigmatic Gabon international.
Lemina was ruled out for swathes of last season as he underwent surgery on an abdomen injury, but he returned for the final periods under Ralph Hasenhuttl.
He appears to be out of favour with the Austrian, however, and as the club aim to raise funds to strengthen their first-team squad further this summer, the ex-Juventus man could be on his way out.
Southampton have plenty of options in midfield, with Oriol Romeu, James Ward-Prowse and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg having occupied the berths throughout last term.
However, Lemina’s departure would leave the Saints somewhat short of a naturally holding player, and replacing the 25-year-old midfielder could be on Hasenhuttl’s agenda.
So, take a look at nine players who Southampton could target to replace the man who arrived for £18 million in the summer of 2017.
Ascacibar had a good season despite Stuttgart’s relegation. The Argentina international is energetic, presses intelligently and breaks up play effectively despite his diminutive frame.
Samassekou is likely to be among Europe’s most sought-after midfielders ahead of next season. The RB Salzburg man is an all-action midfielder who is capable of operating in a multitude of systems.
Sangare is an exceptional talent. The promising Toulouse midfielder, like the aforementioned Samassekou, can do it all. He dribbles well, positions himself intelligently and can stifle opposition attacks.
Haidara had a very good season at RB Leipzig. The dynamic midfielder shielded the back-line effectively last term and, at 21, while he may command a hefty transfer fee, he has the makings of an excellent player.
Gbamin is one of Mainz’s best player. The Ivory Coast international is a good tackler, uses the ball efficiently and covers space well. It is only a matter of time before he secures a big move elsewhere.
Cuisance is a marvellous young player. The Frenchman currently plies his trade with Borussia Monchengladbach but is set for big things. His passing is outstanding, his vision is superb, and he has displayed intelligence beyond his years.
Berge is arguably the most exciting player in Belgium right now. The Genk midfielder, who is already an international for Norway, is energetic, presses aggressively and progresses play whenever he gets the chance to.
Zakaria is a physically-imposing midfielder who possesses the defensive traits that Southampton require in front of their back four. The Switzerland international may be hard to prise away from Borussia Monchengladbach, but he would be a shrewd signing.
Lopez is a massively promising player. The young Marseille midfielder is in demand this summer, and it is easy to see why, given his superb technical ability and guile in possession.
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