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Monaco’s vice-president Vadim Vasilyev has admitted Thomas Lemar could depart next summer, and he confirmed Arsenal came close to capturing the 21-year-old during the recent transfer window.
Vasilyev told Bryan Swanson of Sky Sports News the Gunners worked hard to take the attacking midfielder to the Emirates Stadium, but there was not enough time to complete the transfer:
“Liverpool were really interested, but it was Arsenal that was really close to finalising the deal.”
“It was quite close. At the same time it was just too late, not enough time, to really follow up on this deal. Not all the elements of the puzzle fell in place. I’m very happy he stayed with us. For us, we need a player like Thomas Lemar. He’s very important to our team.”
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Vasilyev added there is a “fair chance” the youngster will depart at the end of the season, but Monaco do not want to lose the French ace in January.
The vice-president also denied his club will bid for Alexis Sanchez in January, stating the Chilean’s wages would be outside of Monaco’s capabilities.
Lemar is a rising talent in France, featuring 34 times in Ligue 1 last term, according to WhoScored.com—as Monaco won the league title. The player scored nine goals but also assisted on 10 occasions, underpinning his potential.
Per Jacob Steinberg of the Guardian, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitted Mesut Ozil and Sanchez could depart the club in January, leaving a huge hole in the Gunners squad.
Lemar would be a natural replacement for one of those players, but he does not have the experience required to be the club’s primary star.
Here is Lemar in action:
In other Gunners news, Olivier Giroud is a target of Juventus and Inter Milan, as the striker struggles to make the starting XI under Wenger.
Italian outlet Calcio Mercato (Anthony Chapman of The Sun) reported the 31-year-old might be allowed to leave Arsenal next summer after scoring 100 goals for the north London giants. Juve could lose Mario Mandzukic at the end of the season, with Giroud a potential new recruit.
Speaking to French TV station Canal Plus (h/t Sky Sports), Giroud recently said he almost left the Emirates for Everton last summer but stayed with the Gunners to continue his career.
“I had the opportunity to leave [Arsenal],” said Giroud. “I was very close to another English club, Everton. But I think I made the best choice.”
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Giroud has been a loyal servant for Wenger, but he has never been an automatic starter at Arsenal. His scoring from the bench is a key feature for the striker, and the club will be keen to hold on to his services.
As expected, Alexandre Lacazette has been given the duties as the No. 9 this term, but Giroud remains a talented individual in the Premier League and is one of the team’s most consistent goal threats.
The Frenchman would be a big hit in Serie A, and Juve could offer him the chance to win a domestic league title in his remaining years before retirement.