Southampton signing of Mario Lemina a ‘significant statement’
Premier League club pay Juventus €17.6m for the Gabon international
Mario Lemina: midfielder won a Serie A league medal and two Copa Italias with Juventus. Photograph: Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty
Southampton have said that signing Mario Lemina from Juventus is a “significant statement” after they broke their transfer record and paid an initial €17.6 million for the midfielder with €2.2m in add-ons.
The 23-year-old Gabon international arrives at St Mary’s after two years in Italy, during which time he won the Serie A title and the Coppa Italia twice, and played in last season’s Champions League final against Real Madrid.
“Mario is an outstanding talent who has already achieved a great deal in his career, winning a number of titles and gaining experience of playing on some of the biggest stages in world football,” said Southampton vice chairman, Les Reed, said.
“Investing in a player of Mario’s quality and buying from a club like Juventus is a significant statement of intent from the club, and this is a purchase that has set another club-record fee.
“Mario still has his best years ahead of him, and we believe that he will not only be an excellent acquisition for us in the immediate future, but that he will also be able to realise even more of his potential here in the years to come.”
Reed was also keen to point out that Southampton had done their work in a “correct way”, a comment possibly directed towards Liverpool after the falling out over Virgil van Dijk.
Reed said: “In a volatile market with some extraordinary and inexplicable transfers taking place, we are determined to go about our work in a diligent and correct way. This is a player who has won trophies and played in the Champions League final less than three months ago and he has signed for Saints amid a host of suitors. Mario will complement what is already an extremely strong group of midfield players in our squad, and we are excited about what he will bring to the group.”
Lemina added: “I am really happy to have signed for Southampton. I think that it was the project that attracted me the most and the one my family was really behind. I am really happy to be here.”
Southampton reported Liverpool to the Premier League for an alleged illegal approach for Van Dijk and the Anfield club were forced into an apology. The defender handed in a transfer request on Monday, saying he wanted a new challenge and that he was “insulted” by suggestions he had refused to train. Guardian Service