Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is hopeful of securing a deal for a player he believes can be the future of French football
Monaco’s golden generation of young players could be ripped apart this summer if Europe’s elite clubs get their own way.
With Bernardo Silva having already departed for Manchester City, the latest hot prospect courting serious interest from the Premier League is Thomas Lemar, who is poised to join Arsenal.
The 21-year-old winger was plucked from Caen’s academy in 2013, another product of the successful scouting approach which has been spearheaded by Monaco vice-president Vadim Vasilev over the past few years.
Therefore, Vasilev is likely to take a strong stance over Lemar’s possible sale but the Gunners are confident that they can snatch him away from Leonardo Jardim’s side.
It would be a crushing blow for Monaco, who also look set to sell midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko to Chelsea in the coming days.
Fabinho and Benjamin Mendy have also been linked with moves away, while star striker Kylian Mbappe – who will make a decision on his own future when he returns from holiday – is the subject of interest from almost every major club in European football, including Real Madrid.
Arsenal’s interest in Lemar has been sparked for a number of reasons. His astute technical ability has caught the eye of various club scouts and 14 assists in all competitions last season provides a clear demonstration of just how successfully he links up with his team-mates.
However, a willingness to improve is usually an indicator of how far a player can go at the highest level and it is Lemar’s character which has drawn Wenger to the player.
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Philippe Tranchant signed Lemar at Caen and depicts the youngster as a humble young man with a strong work ethic.
“On the field, he’s become a monster. In life, on the other hand, not much has changed. He’s got a very reserved nature,” Tranchant told Le Parisien.
Lemar has already spoken to Wenger personally and Arsenal’s history of signing French players is likely to play a huge influence in his final decision.
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If the Gunners can get the transfer over the line in the coming weeks, then they will be getting a laid-back, quiet professional who is conscientious and, by all accounts, easy to get along with. In short, the quintessential Wenger player.
He’s a shining example of Monaco’s transfer policy of buying young players with bags of potential then selling them on for huge profit, which is how Jardim and Vasilev have shrewdly managed to keep Monaco competitive despite losing one starlet after another.
Last season, Lemar played almost exclusively down the left-hand side of midfield, where his clever runs and improved finishing saw him end the campaign with nine goals and 10 assists in Ligue 1 alone.
If Arsenal can secure Lemar’s signature, then they will have a huge prospect on their hands. The advantages outweigh the risks in this transfer and it’s no surprise to see Wenger in the market for a direct, quick winger who is able to score and create goals in equal measure.
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Those who questioned the decision to give the French coach a new two-year contract may still believe a fresh approach is needed in north London, but there can be no doubt that when it comes to attracting some of France’s most exciting young talent, Wenger remains a massive draw.