Stoke and West Brom scrapping for Juventus’ defensive midfielder

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Juventus players are very much in demand at the moment. If it’s not first-teamers like £100m-man Paul Pogba or defender Leonardo Bonucci being linked with an exit, then the squad’s fringe is supposedly getting cut.

Hoping to sweep up some of the chopped tufts are Stoke and West Brom, who appear locked in battle to land the Old Lady’s young defensive midfielder, Mario Lemina.

A range of British media publications offered the Premier League duo as the two most likely landing spots for the 20-year-old, although their prices tended to range from between £10m and £12m.

The Potters and Baggies aren’t the first top-flight outfits to be in the hunt for Lemina, as Arsenal and Liverpool have also found themselves aligned to the Gabon international.

However, interest is reportedly stronger from the latest two suitors, both of whom hope to lure the Lorient youth away from Italy with first-team football.

Only 10 appearances and 727 minutes were afforded to Lemina at Juventus last season. There is unlikely to be too much more than that available this term, even if Pogba does depart.

Despite his limited use, Lemina still impressed. He averaged 2.8 successful tackles per 90 minutes during the season, which was the best mark in the team of anyone who played at least one full match.

As well as his ability to put his foot in, the former Marseille man sat behind only Juan Cuadrado, Paulo Dybala and Paul Pogba for successful dribbles per 90 minutes, with 2.7.

Those displays convinced Juventus to turn the loan-deal they had Lemina on from Marseille permanent this April, which could prove one massive speed bump in Stoke and West Brom’s pursuit.

Nevertheless it would arguably be the latter that provides the better fit. They only have the less-dynamic Claudio Yacob on the books as a defensive shield.

At Stoke the back-four shielding cupboards are a little more well stocked, with Giannelli Imbula and Glenn Whelan likely to block Lemina’s initial attempts at cracking the first team.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.