AS Monaco president Vadim Vasilyev all but admitted over this past weekend that Thomas Lemar will be available to clubs who can afford his price tag, alerting Arsenal and Liverpool to a player they both chased last summer, among other clubs who will no doubt be interested in this particular bit of news.
Arsenal failed in a £92 million Deadline Day transfer last August, and Arsene Wenger stated shortly after the summer window closed that he would return again to Monaco this summer with more bids for Lemar. Encouraging news all-around for Gunners, but the wrinkle in this is Liverpool. That, however, might not be the wrinkle it was in 2017.
Liverpool’s forwards, unless players move elsewhere, are set with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino. Lemar, while talented, would not supplant any of those players given their current form and the season they’ve had. Lemar can also play centrally, behind the forwards, but Liverpool spent £38 million on former Arsenal enigma Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, a player that has since come into his own under Jurgen Klopp and his style of playing football. The Reds are also getting RB Leipzig’s Naby Keita this summer, who is more of a replacement for Emre Can and, possibly, Georginio Wijnaldum. This will undoubtedly strengthen Liverpool’s midfield and overall attack (as well as defense, since Keita can do just about anything asked of him between the two boxes and do it exceptionally well), and there is still a possibility Klopp desires Lemar in spite of Oxlade-Chamberlain’s progression this season. But he would be spending a club-record amount on a player that would relegate a player who moved 12 months ago to re-energize his young career to a rotational role.
Other clubs will certainly come out of the woodwork to make their interest in Lemar known before and during the summer. Barcelona (whose transfer strategy, at the time, was being guided by Raul Sanllehi - now Arsenal’s Head of Football Relations) dipped their toes into this particular market last summer, and since he’s a French international there will probably be links to PSG before it’s all said and done. But as it stands now, Lemar looks to be available and, if Wenger was and still is to be trusted with the words he says, Arsenal will be working on a way to bring him to the Emirates.