Monaco vice-president Vadim Vasilyev told Sky Sports that there is a “fair chance” of Thomas Lemar amid interest from the Premier League.
Lemar was a transfer target for Liverpool, Arsenal and Spurs throughout the summer transfer window while Manchester United briefly had a look at the Monaco man after their pursuit of Ivan Perišić hit a brick wall.
To say the Frenchman has been a man in demand would be an understatement.
Vasilyev: “Liverpool were really interested. But it was Arsenal that was really close to finalising the deal. It was quite close. At the same time it was just too late, not enough time to really follow up on this deal. Not all the elements of the puzzle fell in place.”
When asked whether Lemar may move the vice-president wasn’t shy: “Definitely next summer will be something to look at, although you know in football there are no guarantees. We had some players who were supposed to leave this summer but didn’t leave because of X, Y, Z,
“I’m very happy he stayed with us. For us, we need a player like Thomas Lemar. He’s very important to our team.”
Lemar could be a replacement for reported Barcelona transfer target Philippe Coutinho with the Catalan press linking the Brazilian with a move to the La Liga powerhouse as early as January.
With this in mind, we’ve decided to take a look at why Klopp and the recruitment team at Anfield are prepared to spend big on Lemar in the final few days of the transfer window.
There’s something of a misconception that Lemar is nothing more than a winger. While he started on the left for Monaco, he often took up central positions and allowed Benjamin Mendy the freedom of the left flank.
Similar in a way to what happened at Liverpool last season with James Milner offering the width and allowing Coutinho to operate in central zones.
During Lemar’s earlier days at Caen he operated as a central playmaker, so he’d be more than able to play on the left side of the midfield three meaning Liverpool aren’t overly reliant on Coutinho for their creativity in the middle third.
Many of Lemar’s assists last season, 14 in all competitions, came as a result of a cross either in open play or a set-piece. But they weren’t all traditional crosses with him hugging the touchline. He often drifted into the penalty area and then pulled the ball back for a tap-in.
It’s the sort of situation Liverpool have worked in recent weeks with great combination play in and around the penalty area meaning he’d fit in.
He scored more goals than Adam Lallana and was involved in a goal every 137 minutes, beating the former Southampton man by just three minutes. He could even replace Lallana as the more attack-minded box-to-box midfielder.
More often than not he’d push on, almost operating in the No.10 role, to make the attacking trio a quartet. Lemar could be quite destructive in that position.
His versatility means he can play in place of Sadio Mané, Mohamed Salah, Lallana and Coutinho, but that he could also play alongside them all.
The rumoured fee of £90million seems steep but he’s got the quality to improve not just the Liverpool squad but Jürgen Klopp’s starting XI.