Monaco vice-president Vadim Vasilyev caused quite a stir in the football world yesterday, after admitting that there is a ‘fair chance’ of Thomas Lemar leaving the club next summer. The 21-year-old is certainly a player in demand, with both Liverpool and Arsenal having come close to capturing his signature during the last transfer window. However, shouldn’t Manchester United be exploring the opportunity in signing this emphatic young talent?
Lemar was undoubtedly one of the most exciting attacking talents to watch last season, bursting onto the scene in a free flowing Monaco side that took Europe by storm. Having surpassed expectations in what was ultimately a star studded season for the French side, preventing PSG’s fifth consecutive league title and also reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League, much of Europe’s elite quickly turned their attention to these new stars that had made all of this possible. After all, Monaco had only been promoted back to the French top tier just three years prior to last season.
Whilst predominantly operating as a rather orthodox winger on the left flank in a fluid 4-4-2 system, Lemar certainly showcased his attacking prowess but most notably, his exquisite delivery. The Frenchman registered 14 assists last season across all competitions, more than any other Monaco player, whilst still managing 12 goals from out wide. Lemar’s quick acceleration and pinpoint delivery provided as the perfect recipe for target-man Radamel Falcao’s style of play, with Lemar directly setting up the Colombian five times last year. The Frenchman is undoubtedly a top class winger, who flourishes a 1v1 battle against his opposing fullback and would be an efficient acquisition to any Premier League side.
Most notably however, Lemar is in fact a rather versatile attacker, capable of operating either on the right or even centrally. Although he is typically associated with being an orthodox winger, being a left footed player on the left wing, Lemar does like to drift inside and thus create room for his supporting full-back, a growing trait that managers are starting to admire and utilise from the modern winger. Monaco last season were recognised for their attacking threat and capability to overload the opposition’s half, something hat stemmed from both their wingers coming inside centrally, and creating a very offensive 2-4-2-2 formation (see below).
This versatility of Lemar and his ability to operate under specific player instructions may be a pulling factor if Jose Mourinho is considering the young attacker. Mourinho’s wide players down the years have always played an important role in shaping the structure of his sides, and Lemar certainly looks a player who fits this bill. The proposition of Lemar transitioning with other fluid attackers such as Juan Mata and Henrikh Mkhitaryan is undoubtedly a mouth-watering prospect.
Having already showcased his worth in the Champions League, Lemar has now established himself as an important member of Didier Deschamps’ national team and at the age of just twenty-one, looks destined to blossom into a world-class player. There is no denying that Lemar would be an expensive transfer, but in the current market where player’s values can easily surge through the roof, there is an argument to suggest that Lemar wouldn’t even be much of a gamble – Mbappe is currently proving this point over at PSG. There are very few U21 players who possess the same audacity, as Lemar and United should certainly be exploring the opportunity to bring him in, before Liverpool or Arsenal seal a deal.