SAINTS aren’t interested in loaning out Mario Lemina - but they would consider a permanent deal if the money is right.

There were reports stemming from the Italian media suggesting the south coast side had rejected an approach from Serie A outfit Atalanta.

However, the Daily Echo understands this is wide of the mark and that the club haven’t received a formal offer for Lemina’s services.

The Gabonese international returned to pre-season, along with a host of other players, on Monday to begin the preparations for the upcoming campaign.

Lemina joined Saints from Juventus in August 2017 for a then club-record fee of around £15m.

During his two-year spell with the Italian giants, the 25-year-old helped them complete a back-to-back domestic double.

This caught the attention from a number of English clubs, with Lemina opting to sign for Claude Puel at St Mary’s.

The midfielder made his debut shortly after arriving on the south coast in the 3-2 away win at West Brom at the beginning of the 2017/18 season.

Since then, he has gone on to make a further 48 appearances for the Premier League side.

Lemina started the previous campaign under Mark Hughes and then maintained his place in the team when Ralph Hasenhuttl took charge last December.

But the central midfielder suffered an abdomen injury at the end of that month which would rule him out for a substantial period.

He needed surgery to resolve the issue and remained out of action until making his comeback against Newcastle in April, with him also netting a consolation goal at St James’ Park.

It's understood Saints are keen to move players on during this window and Lemina is one who would attract a big offer compared to the others.

Ralph Hasenhuttl has already a lot of his business early, with the acquisitions of Moussa Djenepo, Che Adams and Danny Ings.

And although the club are still interested in adding a defender, they will need to start getting rid of players who won't make the cut under the Austrian manager.

Matt Targett has already been sold to Aston Villa which represented a good piece of business for the Premier League side.

But it's the likes of Wesley Hoedt and Guido Carrillo who could prove to be difficult to ship out.

Lemina, on the other hand, has shown what he is capable of and could attract an offer Saints can't turn down.