‘Quality’ Lemina backed to put bad spell at Southampton behind him

Mario Lemina was a record £18m signing for Southampton in 2017.

An acquisition at the time described as a “significant statement” when the Saints persuaded him to join from Juventus.

Fast forward to May last year, and he had made just 49 appearances for the St Mary’s club over two campaigns.

A natural defensive midfielder, Lemina had all the gifts to shine in England’s top flight.

But if he’d have been an unqualified success with Southampton, they would not have farmed the 27-year-old on loan to Galatasaray last season.

Fulham have handed the Gabon international a second bite of the cherry on a season-long loan deal.

Scott Parker has a player in his squad who has a good blend of technique and strength, and at 6ft, uses his height and frame to shield and keep possession of the ball, before laying it off to team-mates.

But the Fulham manager laid bare the one thing missing from Lemina’s armoury at Southampton: consistency.

“When he first went in at Southampton he was fantastic; an unbelievable player,” Parker said.

“But I think Mario would be the first to say he lost his way a little bit.

“I understand what we have in Mario; a quality player who can have a real impact on what we do this year.

“Saying that, he understands what’s needed to reach the pinnacle of your ability is to be consistent, and a lot of ingredients need to fall into place for that to happen.

“He needs to understand how he fits into the environment, and if he does, we have some player on our hands”.

Lemina teams up with fellow former Southampton midfielder Harrison Reed, who made his transfer permanent after a stellar role in Fulham’s successful return to the Premier League while on loan last season.