After his record move from Juventus over the summer, Mario Lemina produced his best Southampton performance in the weekend win over Crystal Palace.
Now, Garth Crooks – famous for his unorthodox BBC Team of the Weeks – has heaped praise on the Gabonese international.
Lemina stole the show against Palace, completing over 90% of his passes and having more touches of the ball than anyone else. His heatmap stretched the full length of the pitch.
Putting in a Paul Pogba-esque performance has drawn plenty of plaudits too, with the BBC’s Garth Crooks going as far as suggesting that the league’s elite should’ve made a move for the Gabonese international.
“Lemina is a top-four player in my opinion and fair play to Southampton for making the purchase. Why he is not playing for Liverpool or Arsenal is a mystery to me.” – Crooks
Since making his move from Juventus last month, Lemina has shown glimmers of potential and it was surprising to see him left out against Watford in the 2-0 loss just over a week ago.
Playing in a free role next to the more disciplined Oriol Romeu, Lemina made runs up and down the pitch, taking on several players with jinxing runs using his good upper-body strength.
Lemina’s signing was initially met with some hesitation, with Southampton – at the point in time – boasting four able central-midfielders on their books. However, the 24-year-old has swiftly become both a fan-favourite and one of the squad’s best players.
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“My goodness, this lad looks a powerhouse. I suppose when you’ve played for one of the biggest clubs in the world in Juventus, you should have all the tools to survive in any league.
“However, what I witnessed in Southampton’s Mario Lemina was a player who seemed to stifle Crystal Palace’s every move. The former Juve man was composed on the ball and timely in the tackle – and for a holding midfielder, he was very capable of hurting the opposition.” – Crooks
In today’s market, the signing of just £18 million could prove to be an excellent bit of business, but it could again lead to the midfielder getting targeted some of the bigger clubs in England as soon as next summer.
Nonetheless, Lemina will hope to continue his run of form in Southampton’s first proper test of the season this coming Saturday, as Southampton face Manchester United.