Yesterday afternoon, the Northern Echo reported that we were close to agreeing a deal to sign Mario Lemina from Southampton following a series of talks.
However, Loic Tanzi – a French journalist from RMC Sport – now reports that he is currently on a flight to Nice to join the Ligue 1 club.
This is a major blow, as it is believed that Lemina was one of the priority targets for the summer, being linked multiple times since the season ended.
The former Fulham loanee was also available at a cut-price fee that could’ve worked within Steve Bruce’s budget, with Nice expected to pay just shy of £4m for his signature.
He would have added some much needed aggression to the midfield, with his ability to win the ball back also an asset.
The 27-year-old is also good at progressing the ball into the attacking half. Aside from Jonjo Shelvey, we don’t have a midfielder who is adept at doing this.
Reports from the South did suggest that Nice would be a more likely destination for Lemina and they have proven to be right.
Steve Bruce and the recruitment team need to move on quickly, as the season is quickly approaching. We have yet to make a summer signing and the squad is in desperate need of strengthening.
It is encouraging that they are trying to strengthen the midfield, but it is worrying that they are trying to do so on the cheap.
The moment another club becomes interested, a deal seems to become impossible. Kristoffer Ajer and Mario Lemina were both heavily linked after scouting, yet both have joined other clubs.
This summer moves on…