Arsenal have made a big-money bid for Thomas Lemar. Here’s why the Monaco winger is such an attractive prospect…
With Manchester City attempting to sign Alexis Sanchez, Arsene Wenger has stepped up his long-term interest in Lemar, with Sky sources understanding a £92m bid has been made.
Here, we chart Lemar’s rise from the island of Guadeloupe to the left wing of Monaco’s midfield…
Thomas Lemar – Factfile
International caps: 5
Having been born in the French overseas territory of Guadeloupe, Lemar moved to mainland Europe in 2010 to join Caen’s youth setup.
The versatile midfielder rose up the ranks, but seldom featured for Caen in his first season with the senior side, playing just seven games in the 2013/14 campaign which saw Caen earn promotion to Ligue 1 – one N’Golo Kante played every match that season.
Lemar featured more heavily alongside Kante upon the club’s return to top-tier action – where they finished 13th – though it proved to be the final season for both players at Caen.
Monaco were successful with a £3.4m bid for Lemar in the summer of 2015, while Kante moved to Leicester in a £5.6m deal – Premier League glory was to follow just nine months later for the defensive midfielder.
Move to Monaco
Lemar arrived at Monaco on a five-year deal in June 2015, and Vadim Vasilyev, Monaco’s vice-president, was aware of the 19-year-old’s promise.
“Thomas represents the future of French football at his level,” Vasilyev told the club’s website after signing Lemar.
“He’s part of the same generation as Anthony Martial, he’s involved with the French U21s and so he’s a perfect match for our project.”
Lemar enjoyed a decent first season at the principality club, scoring five goals and assisting a further three en route to Monaco’s third-placed finish in 2015/16.
Monaco announced themselves on the European stage once more in 2016/17 – with Lemar among a number of players to capture the imagination of fans and pundits as they reached the Champions League semi-finals.
And while Kylian Mbappe and Radamel Falcao were forming a deadly partnership up front, Lemar himself contributed nine goals and 10 assists as Monaco ended PSG’s four-year dominance in Ligue 1, as they clinched the club’s first title in 17 years in the process.
Lemar made himself known to Premier League fans in late 2016 – while also endearing himself to Arsenal supporters – when scoring the decisive goal in both of Monaco’s 2-1 victories over Tottenham in the group stages.
Having represented France at all levels from U17 to U21, Lemar was called up to the senior side in November 2016 following the withdrawal of Kingsley Coman.
Lemar came on to play the final 12 minutes of France’s 0-0 draw with the Ivory Coast. Substitute appearances then followed against Spain, Paraguay and Sweden.
A first start for Lemar came against England in a friendly at the Stade de France in mid-June. Operating on the left wing, he played alongside Kante, Paul Pogba and Ousmane Dembele in midfield.
France ran out 3-2 winners thanks to Dembele’s 78th-minute winner. Lemar played the full 90 minutes, coming up against Kieran Trippier and then Kyle Walker – both of whom he could face once more if he heads to Arsenal this summer.
Style of play
Utilised mainly as a winger, Lemar is also capable of playing through the centre. This versatility means he will often roam infield if starting on the left, while his link-up play with Falcao and Mbappe is what helped him claim the most assists of any Ligue 1 player last season.
Lemar also delivered 2.2 key passes per game – the fifth most in Ligue 1 – and 1.6 crosses per match, ranking him ninth among all players.
Adept with both feet, Lemar is comfortable and confident on the ball, while his off-ball runs are intelligent and seek to advance Monaco’s attacks.
What they say…
Former team-mate at Caen, Alaeddine Yahia: “His left foot is amazing. It’s like a hand – he puts the ball where he wants. Let’s not forget he’s playing for a big club already in Monaco, but I think he’ll go a long way.”
Former team-mate Dennis Appiah: “He can be as good as he wants. He just needs to be consistent, to keep on scoring and setting up goals, to keep moving in the right direction.”
Where will he fit in?
If Arsene Wenger continues to operate with a 3-4-3 formation, Lemar could be a good replacement for Sanchez.
A switch the 4-2-3-1 would likely see Lemar out on the left, though he would be capable of playing anywhere across that attacking three behind the striker.