New Saint grills French friends on life in the Premier League
By Ossian Shine
SOUTHAMPTON, England (Reuters) - Mario Lemina, Southampton's record signing, has been grilling his French friends about life in the Premier League in a bid to hit the ground running.
The Gabon midfielder joined Saints from Juventus on Tuesday in a 17 million-euro five-year deal.
"I have a lot of friends from France who are here and they have explained to me what it's like to play in the Premier League," the 23-year-old said.
"It is a different league, and I hope that I adapt quickly to it because I know that it is a league where everything goes quickly. I know that the team will help me lots to get used to it."
Lemina, who won the Serie A title and the Italian Cup twice with Juventus and featured in last season’s Champions League final defeat by Real Madrid, says he wants to reach Europe with the Saints.
"The aims this year are the same as they were last season," he told the club's website.
"We want to finish high up the table, whether that be sixth, seventh or eight place, and why not challenge for the Europa League. I've seen that the club is very ambitious and we want to stay on this upward path."
Lemina is the club's second signing in the transfer window after Polish centre half Jan Bednarek joined from Lech Poznan.
His arrival is a boost for supporters after Dutch defensive kingpin Virgil van Dijk earlier this week handed in a transfer request.
Bednarek says Mauricio Pellegrino's team are not talking about Van Dijk and are only focused on making a positive start against Swansea at St Mary's on Saturday.
"It's Virgil's own situation," the 21-year-old centre-back told the Southampton newspaper the Daily Echo.
"This is his own problem, and we have to be separated from this, because we have an important game and for the team that's the only important thing. We don't think about this and don't talk about it."
Van Dijk was banished to train alone by manager Pellegrino after asking to leave, and subsequently handed in a transfer request to try to force a move.
(Editing by Larry King)