Photo by ADAM DAVY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

All the momentum built up during an impressive end to the 2020/21 season has fizzled out at Newcastle United, the dark clouds returning to once again shroud St James’ Park under a familiar blanket of shadow. 

It is July 23 and Newcastle have still not signed a single player during the summer transfer window.

On Thursday, reports suggested that a breakthrough was near at last, with Mario Lemina closing in on a £4 million move that could, at least according to the Mail, be made official by the end of the week. 

But Newcastle fans are used to disappointment by now. And the news that Lemina is heading across the Channel instead has been met with grim resignation. 

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Who will Newcastle turn to after missing out on Mario Lemina?

No one can really blame Lemina as he ups sticks and heads to France, bringing an end to a difficult couple of years at Southampton. 

The Athletic is reporting today that a deal between the Saints and Ligue 1 giants Nice has been agreed.

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There are worse places to live than the banks of the French Riviera after all.

And Nice the club carry as much allure as Nice the city these days, bankrolled by British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe and coached by the man who led Lille to Ligue 1 glory last term, Christophe Galtier. 

Galtier has a superb track record when it comes to creating a side greater than the sum of its parts and the transformation enjoyed by Jose Fonte, Burak Yilmaz and Renato Sanches at the Allianz Riviera should give Lemina hope that he can rediscover the form that once convinced Southampton to pay a club-record £15 million for him. 

Will Newcastle’s loss be Nice’s gain? Given Galtier’s history, the answer to that particular question may be an emphatic ‘yes’.

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In other news, ‘Arsenal can’t’: Rio Ferdinand claims £44m player won’t join Gunners amid report