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Watford missed out on the chance to sign Mario Lemina from Premier League rivals Southampton as they only wanted the midfielder on loan, as reported by The Athletic. 

Heading into the summer, Ralph Hasenhuttl was racking his brain, thinking of a way to get a whole host high-earning, seldom-seen players off the wage bill.

Three months on, it is safe to say the Saints have made good progress as they look to sear the fat from a flabby squad. 

Wesley Hoedt and Angus Gunn have departed, sold to Anderlecht and Norwich City respectively, while Lemina put pen to paper on a three-year deal with one of France’s most ambitious sides on Saturday. 

7 Players Who REJECTED Manchester United

7 Players Who REJECTED Manchester United
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Bankrolled by billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe and coached by Lille legend Christophe Galtier, Nice are looking to force their way into the Champions League picture next term.

If Lemina can rediscover the form that made him Southampton’s record signing in the summer of 2017, the former Juventus and Marseille enforcer will be one of the signings of the year at just £4.7 million. 

Why did Watford and Newcastle miss out on Mario Lemina?

Newcastle United were also keen to snap up the Gabon international, with Magpies boss Steve Bruce looking to add some energy and precision to a rather one-paced midfield.  

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It is understood, however, that owner Mike Ashley was unwilling to pay up for a man who, at 27, is slightly older than the typical St James’ Park signing. 

Newcastle were not the only top-flight side who missed out, however. Watford had their sights fixed on Lemina too but only wanted a loan deal for a man who impressed during a short-term spell at Fulham last season. 

Given that Lemina only had one year left on his Southampton contract, however, it would have made little sense for the Saints to let their £40,000-a-week forgotten man leave on loan again. 

Considering that they were just 12 months away from losing Lemina for free, a near-£5 million windfall looks like good business.

Watford, meanwhile, continue to be linked with a number of technically-gifted midfielders as doubts swirl around the future of Will Hughes

But director Cristiano Giaretta played down their reported interest in Sampdoria’s Morten Thorsby last week 

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In other news, Leeds United and West Ham face transfer battle with Real Madrid in 2022