MARIO Lemina is closing in on a loan move to French side Monaco - but Saints are pushing for there to be an obligation to buy clause next summer.

The Gabon international is surplus to requirements on the south coast, with it being clear that he doesn't fit into Ralph Hasenhuttl's plans.

Lemina had previously been subject to interest from fellow Premier League sides Arsenal, Everton, Leicester, Manchester United and Wolves.

However, all clubs failed to meet Saints' valuation.

It's believed that Monaco are interested in signing him, but would prefer to have an option to buy clause.

Saints have been stung by this clause in the past, as defenders Wesley Hoedt and Cedric Soares returned to the club over the summer after having the same clause in their loan deals.

This is why the south coast side are pushing for an obligation to buy because it will mean that they will not have to worry about trying to ship the midfielder on next summer.

As well as that, it will give them the opportunity to start planning for potential new arrivals, as they will know a large portion of their weekly wages will disappear when the transfer becomes permanent.

The 25-year-old joined the St Mary's outfit back in 2017 when he signed for just over £15m from Italian giants Juventus.

He missed a large chunk of action last season after picking up an abdomen injury back in December which ruled him out until April.

Lemina returned to the Saints fold for the long trip to Newcastle and netted his only goal for the club in the 3-1 defeat.

But not long after the transfer window opened for business, he gave an interview to France Football making it clear that he wanted to begin a new challenge away from the south coast.

And as the speculation over his future increased, the midfielder took to Twitter to highlight his talent.

He released a montage of his best bits in a Saints shirt, only for eagle-eyed spectators to notice that in some of the clips it was teammates Sofiane Boufal and Nathan Redmond, as opposed to Lemina.

This highlight reel was accompanied with '#TonicLikeLeminade'.

But after poking fun at his current situation with former Saint Charlie Austin, the ex-Juventus man has gone quiet. During his two-year spell at Saints, Lemina has played 49 times.