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West Ham United are set to make a move for Juventus midfielder Mario Lemina, according to reports from talkSPORT. Manager Slaven Bilic is keen on strengthening his midfield ahead of the coming season and sees the Gabon international as the ideal man to bring into the squad.
The Hammers have had quite a strong transfer window, having brought in several players of proven quality, unlike last summer. Till date, the club has signed Pablo Zabaleta on a free transfer after he was released by Manchester City, Joe Hart on loan from City again and have also added Marko Arnautovic from Stoke City and Javier Hernandez from Bayer Leverkusen.
The central midfield area isn’t much of a concern for the Hammers, given that they have options in the form of captain Mark Noble, Cheikhou Kouyate, Pedro Obiang and the young Edimilson Fernandes. However, with Obiang coming in after a lengthy layoff due to an injury and Kouyate set to miss the start of the season due to a knee injury he picked during the pre-season, combined with Noble’s misfiring form, adding another body to the midfield positions wouldn’t be the worst idea for the club.
The 23-year old Lemina has been with Juventus for two years now, having first joined the club on loan in 2015 from Ligue1 side Marseille before making a permanent move at the end of the 2015/16 season, after a series of impressive displays. Last season, he made 19 Serie A appearances in all competitions for the Bianconeri, scoring and assisting one goal apiece.
Till date, he has played 42 times for the club and has found the back of the net 3 times. A full international with Gabon, he has made 6 appearances for the national team, scoring once.
Lemina might not have played a lot with Juve, but that is not because of the lack of ability, as it had more to do with the options at manager Massimiliano Allegri’s disposal, with the likes of Sami Khedira, Miralem Pjanic, Claudio Marchisio etc. The 23-year old has proven himself with every opportunity he has been afforded so far and looks the part.
A supreme passer of the ball, Lemina can sit deep and spray balls upfield with surgical precision. Last season in the Serie A, he had a brilliant pass success percentage of 90%. Tall and strong, he can hold his own against opponents and provides that physical presence during set-pieces. Every now and then, he has that tendency to run forward with the ball, by putting his good dribbling skills to use and also drifts out wide to cross the ball into the box. The 23-year old is also an astute tackler and can shield the ball very well under pressure too.
Due to these all-round attributes, he has been often been likened to former Juventus midfielder and Manchester United’s record signing, Paul Pogba. The kind of attacking mentality that he brings, combined with the strong defensive nous, makes him an asset to have in the ranks.
Lemina has shown great amount of potential so far and has given a good account of himself at each opportunity that has come his way. With regular game time, he has the talent to grow into a formidable all-round midfielder and West Ham will benefit greatly if they manage to get him on their books before the deadline day.