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Playing in Champions League counted - Lemina on why he snubbed Monaco

20:09 GMT+3 02/01/2020
Mario Lemina Krepin Diatta Galatasaray Club Brugge UCL 11262019
The Ligue 1 club were reportedly in advanced talks to sign the Gabon international who instead opted to go to Turkey

Mario Lemina says he chose to join Galatasaray because of the prospect of playing Champions League football, and he also felt the Turkish giants were more keen on his services than any other club.

The Gabon international midfielder is on a season-long loan at Galatasaray, whom he joined in September, and has made 11 Super Lig appearances so far.

The move to Turkey came amid interest from Monaco, who also wanted him on loan with an option of a permanent move amid reports that he was in advanced talks with the Ligue 1 side.

But the 26-year-old instead opted for Galatasaray, where he feels he has “an important place in the team” as the Turkish side had started pursuing his signature a few years ago.

“The idea was to find a base to relaunch myself and that's what I got by signing here. I think you could say that I found the right shoe in Turkey,” Lemina told France Football.

“Honestly it's going great, really [he insists]. I have an important place in the team and I feel that I am gaining momentum. I'm not very far from finding the level that was mine a few months ago.

“Two or three years ago, I had already been in contact with this club. It had not been done for several reasons but when they came back to me this summer, I realised that they were really attached to my coming. The fact that they wanted to recruit me so much played a role.”

Also the prospect of playing Champions League football played a role in luring Lemina to Galatasaray.

He featured in four of Galatasaray’s six Group A Champions League matches facing the likes of Real Madrid and Paris Saint Germain.

“The atmosphere in the stadium, playing in the Champions League, it had to count, too ... Of course,” Lemina added.

“These are atmospheres that I like. These are all these things that made me want to try the adventure. I really wanted to rediscover some of the sensations that I had the chance to experience, in particular the fact of giving everything for supporters who love you. I am like this.”

He also feels that Turkish fans are more passionate than Premier League crowds.

“It's different. Here, when people love, they don't count. They are real fanatics. You have to live it to believe it ...,” added Lemina.

Together with Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, he is expected to headline Gabon’s bid for a maiden appearance at the Fifa World Cup when the 2022 qualifiers for the soccer Olympiad kicks off in March.