We’ll may never know just how close a deal was to going through, but we do know that when Liverpool entered into negotiations with Monaco to sign Thomas Lemar over the final 24 hours of the summer transfer window things were serious enough that the club had a medical team standing by ready to fly to France.
Arsenal, though, came closest in the end, upstaging Liverpool’s late move for the player with an offer of around £90M for the French international that Monaco accepted but that the Gunners couldn’t push over the line. According to Monaco’s vice president, it was simply a case of the interested clubs getting serious too late.
“Liverpool were really interested, but it was Arsenal that were closest to finalising a deal,” VP Vadim Vasilyev told Sky today when asked just how close Lemar came to leaving. “At the same time it was just too late with not enough time to really follow up on the deal and so not all the elements of the puzzle fell into place.”
The rumblings at the time were that while Arsenal had beaten Liverpool’s offer for the player, Lemar preferred Anfield and Champions League football to London and the Europa League, and it was simply too late for either Arsenal to change his mind or for Liverpool to raise their bid or otherwise convince Monaco to sell.
Now, as far as those at Monaco are concerned, Lemar’s place at the club is a settled thing, at least for the remainder of the season—there will be no January move for 21-year-old star. Next summer, though, could be a different matter, and Vasilyev sounds largely resigned to the idea of losing the player at the end of the season.
"I’m very happy he stayed with us,” he added. “We need a player like Thomas Lemar. He’s very important to our team. But definitely next summer it will be something to look at, although you know in football there are no guarantees [but ] I think it would be fair to say Thomas will have a fair chance to an exit next year.
"January, in football, never say never, but this is not what we’re thinking of, this is really not in our plans. January doesn’t seem like the right time for major changes in the team."