We haven't seen much of Mario Lemina this season. That's obviously not by choice for the 22-year-old midfielder. In a season filled with injuries up and down the Juventus roster, Lemina's long-term absence basically wiped out a huge chunk of his season-long loan spell.
With Lemina scoring a lovely goal against Atalanta over the weekend, it's provided the perfect reason for his agent to come out and talk about the player's current standing and future. And since he's on loan and has a €9.5 million price tag slapped to him if Juventus so desire to make his deal a permanent one, there's actually a good reason to think about whether Lemina could be a Juve player past this summer.
"He has overcome all his knee problems and is finally 100 per cent fit, so is eager to give his contribution. It has not been easy for him to watch his teammates from the stands after a convincing start to the season.
"On Sunday against Atalanta he proved his tactical versatility as well as his eye for goal. (Max) Allegri can count on him for any midfield role. The goal really helped him on a psychological level. He is very motivated and wants to help the club achieve the Treble.
"Juve are a great side who always fight to be champions. Mario never won the title with Lorient and Marseille, but he wants to achieve this in Turin. It's early to discuss his future, as that will be decided in May. Of course he wants to stay at Juventus, as he loves Italy and Turin, while Juve are Juve.
"It might seem like a cliché, but I can assure you it's true - Juventus is like a family and they made Mario feel at home from the first day. I speak to the club regularly, but any discussion on the buy-out clause will be reserved until after the season."
(Source: Football Italia)
As you can see, a lot of this is an agent pumping up his client after he does something good on the field. Recency bias ain't bad, I suppose. It's not like Lemina's agent is going to come out and slam the young lad after he scores a damn nice goal to secure another three points for Juventus. They want the best for their clients.
But, here's the thing: Has Lemina shown us enough to invest €9.5 million on a player who has only appeared in six Serie A games this season?
Max Allegri and the rest of Juventus' management team sees more of him than we do in training, of course. But less than 400 minutes of game time domestically is surely nowhere near the kind of sample size where you can be fully convinced somebody may or may not fit into your future plans. That is, of course, they're somebody that you've eyed for a while and are bringing along somewhat slowly — like, for instance, Daniele Rugani.
Then throw in how deep Juve are in midfield, and paying €9.5 million for a would-be backup is quite a bit.
So, yeah, Juventus have a decision to make. Or they've made it already. If they have, maybe they can tell us. That sure would be nice of them wouldn't it?