Man United given green light to open talks with £18m-rated Southampton ace

Manchester United have been given permission by Southampton to enter into talks with midfielder Mario Lemina who is free to leave the South Coast club, according to the Times.

It was reported on Monday that both United and Arsenal had submitted enquiries to Southampton over Lemina’s availability after he was left out of Southampton’s pre-season squad to Austria.

The 25-year-old missed four months of last season with an abdominal injury which coincided with Ralph Hassenhuttl’s arrival and the Austrian is happy for him to move on this summer.

Now it appears as though United have moved to the front of the queue to sign the Gabon international who is valued by Southampton at £18m, which is what they paid Juventus to sign him two years ago.

Lemina is keen to leave Southampton after saying last week: ‘I still have another three years of contract. But it is true that I do not rule out the possibility of seeing something else.

‘The last four months have not been easy for me, with my injury. The coach put his team together. I want to start afresh. So why not leave?

‘We have very good discussions with the club. We are in agreement. If I don’t feel good in this project, I can leave. They are giving me the opportunity to be able to go elsewhere.’

Lemina has scored only two goals in 52 appearances for Southampton, but he has impressed at times in a box-to-box role, succeeding with 88% of his attempted dribbles in 2017-18.