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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has denied speculation Thomas Lemar snubbed Arsenal in favour of staying with AS Monaco because he did not want to join the Gunners.
Monaco vice-president Vadim Vasilyev previously told TASS (h/t Nick Lustig of Sky Sports) both Liverpool and Arsenal tried to land the France international on deadline day and the player was interested in the move.
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As reported by James Cambridge of the Daily Express, rumours arose the player’s wish was to join the Reds, and he supposedly decided against an Arsenal transfer as he wasn’t all that interested in the club.
Wenger has denied those suggestions, saying: “It’s not true. He’s decided to stay in Monaco and you have to respect that.”
Per sports broadcaster Kelechi Nkoro, he has also said the club will return for Lemar, further evidence the 21-year-old didn’t turn down the Gunners:
Kelechi Nkoro @K1Says
Arsène Wenger on Téléfoot: “€100m for Lemar? Yes all true, I wanted him. He decided to stay at Monaco, We will come back for him.” https://t.co/spz89Qe2Z2
Monaco lost a host of star players during the summer, including Kylian Mbappe and Bernardo Silva, and Lemar seemed likely to join that group late in the window. Links with both Arsenal and Liverpool intensified, and plenty of reports of offers surfaced late.
It’s easy to see why two major Premier League clubs were interested, via WhoScored.com:
Thomas Lemar: Only Thomas Mangani (15) has created more clear-cut goalscoring chances than Lemar (12) in Ligue 1 in 2017 https://t.co/VruRCQgrDp
A move never materialised, but the speculation is unlikely to die down between now and January. Lemar bagged his first two goals for the France national team during the deadline-day drama, and the speedy winger seems primed for a massive first half to the season.
Jonathan Norcroft of the Sunday Times believes his transfer value is only going to rise, which is good news for the Ligue 1 champions and bad news for all of his suitors:
Jonathan Northcroft @JNorthcroft
Problem: he might be too expensive for Liverpool by then. Expect Arsenal (and others) to rival them https://t.co/6g6oH70GD4
Arsenal and Liverpool both do not have a reputation for big spending, opting to find value in the market and developing players themselves. With price tags soaring, the two will have to adjust, however, and Lemar’s youth and upside would warrant a heavy investment.
The youngster will likely keep an eye on how both teams fare between now and January and how they position themselves for the future. A lack of UEFA Champions League football hurt Arsenal’s chances during the summer, but if the team plays well in the next few months and has a positive outlook for next season, it will be a major help in January.