During a press conference that included a refusal to commit to Shkodran Mustafi’s future at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger effectively closed what was this summer’s most frustrating transfer saga by declaring that Monaco has managed to hold on to Thomas Lemar for the time being:
‘Monaco have closed the door definitely because there are ongoing cases with Mbappe and Fabinho.
‘They lost Mendy, Silva and Bakayoko so Monaco are at the stage where they have closed the door.”
If one is truly being honest, this can only be viewed as a massive failure and blow to Wenger’s ability to bring in his top transfer targets.
If you recall, the summer started out with Wenger and Ivan Gazidis going to the south of France together, and not because they found a great deal on flights and hotels. The initial, audacious target was Lemar’s Monaco and France international teammate Kylian Mbappé, but the scope widened to later include Lemar and Nice midfielder Jean Michaël Seri.
We all know what’s happened since. Despite Wenger’s extremely close family ties, Mbappé is on the verge of a move to PSG and Seri rejected Arsenal in favor of a move to Barcelona, which has since taken on a hilarious twist of its own (and might very well benefit Arsenal in the end, however remote those odds may be now), and now Lemar is staying put in a Monaco side that has been picked apart by other big, ambitious clubs in Europe.
Wenger’s tendency to produce subterfuge in press conferences is well-known, but given his choice of words today there’s little to be optimistic that this story takes a positive turn before next Thursday.