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Monaco Sign Potential Thomas Lemar Replacement

It’s a deal that could pave the way for Lemar’s Liverpool transfer—and here’s how Liverpool can afford it.

Borussia Dortmund v AS Monaco - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: First Leg Photo by Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images

Liverpool are preparing a £75M bid for Monaco attacking midfielder and winger Thomas Lemar and will offer the French club Divock Origi on loan as a potential sweetener. Now, it appears Monaco may have brought in his replacement, agreeing a fee upwards of €30M to sign Lazio attacker Keita Baldé Diao.

Keita Baldé first emerged as a serious target for Monaco yesterday, shortly after it emerged Liverpool were pushing hard to sign the 21-year-old Lemar. There have also been reports over the past 24 hours that they are working towards a deal to sign Arda Turan, currently surplus to requirements at Barcelona.

For Liverpool, meanwhile, it’s potentially telling that the club appear to have gone to £75M and then offered to send Origi to Monaco as a sweetener given £75M was the fee they were reportedly willing to push to if they had made a third and final bid when trying to sign Naby Keïta earlier in the summer.

They have now gotten Keïta in after all, but he will arrive next summer—when Liverpool will pay the bulk of his transfer fee. Reports vary on whether Liverpool will end up paying £51M or £55M in total, but regardless, they will be paying the lion’s share of that next summer, not this summer.

That means Lemar would arrive using the money originally budgeted to sign Keïta this year, and if the club are going over budget—to also push above the roughly £60M originally allocated to sign Virgil van Dijk, or to give RB Leipzig a small reserve fee up front—it won’t be by a particularly massive amount.

This would lend credence to continuing claims that Philippe Coutinho will not be sold, as going over budget by £10M or £15M or even £20M is manageable. Financial Fair Play is calculated across multiple seasons, and that’s a number that could be compensated for in future years without much difficulty.

If Liverpool do go over budget to that extent and stick to their guns on Coutinho, though, fans will just have to keep it in mind—along with the fact the club will be paying most of Keïta’s fee next year—when the summer of 2018 rolls around.

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