ARSENAL transfer target Thomas Lemar immediately showed the Gunners what they had missed out.
Hours after the winger’s club, Monaco, accepted an offer for the 21-year-old he was on international duty with France in a World Cup qualifier against the Netherlands.
Perhaps he raised his game, or maybe this was just his level, but Lemar scored twice in a 4-0 rout of the Oranje in Paris.
The first, a rasping half-volley off the side of his foot into the top corner which left Jasper Cillessen grasping at thin air, underlined his supreme talent and was also his maiden strike for Les Bleus.
And a handful of games into the new season, our friends at Football Whispers examine how the Arsenal and Liverpool transfer target is doing this term.
It was not only the Gunners, after all, who were keen to sign the French international.
Liverpool saw a bid of £82million turned down before the North Londoners put an extra £10m on that.
In the end, though, Lemar was one of the few members of Monaco’s title-winning side not to get his big move away from the Stade Louis II over the summer.
The exodus began with Portuguese schemer Bernardo Silva joining Manchester City.
Tiemoue Bakayoko soon followed to the Premier League, signing for Chelsea, before Benjamin Mendy moved to the Etihad Stadium too.
Last but by no means least, Kylian Mbappe – a one-time Real Madrid transfer target – headed to Paris Saint-Germain on loan with a £166m deal agreed for next summer.
All of a sudden there would have been very few familiar faces in the canteen at Monaco’s luxurious Training Center La Turbie.
But despite all the upheaval, Monaco have started their title defence well and only trail the Neymar-inspired PSG juggernaut by three points at this early stage.
The 6-1 thrashing of big-spending Marseille has been the highlight thus far with Lemar supplying the assist for Kamil Glik’s second-minute opener.
But that crushing win was followed by a 4-0 defeat to Nice – their only league loss so far – and the match also proved to be a blip for Lemar who was withdrawn at half-time with a hamstring injury.
Lemar subsequently missed Monaco’s next two games as Leonardo Jardim’s men drew 1-1 with RB Leipzig in their Champions League opener and breezed past Strasbourg in Ligue 1.
The Guadeloupe-born wideman got 11 minutes in the 4-0 demolition of Lille before making his return to the side in a 3-0 Champions League loss at home to Porto at the end of September.
That game was a re-run of the 2004 Champions League final won by Jose Mourinho’s men.
He made his first Ligue 1 start since injury in a 1-1 draw with Montpellier at the end of last month – his first in 20 days.
He was quiet in France’s 3-1 World Cup qualifying win over Belarus on Tuesday.
After a bright start to the campaign, that injury appears to have set Lemar back slightly.
He is yet to score this season after bagging 14 goals in all competitions last term and his statistics are – ever so slightly – down on last year.
He has posted 1.3 dribbles per game on average this season in Ligue 1, down on 1.5 last year, while making two key passes, a slight drop from 2.2 previously.
But these numbers are little to worry about and, given the barely believable fairytale that was last season, asking any player to hit those heights again was always going to be tall order.
Moreover, any dip in form is unlikely to concern Lemar’s potential suitors.
Liverpool and Arsenal were prepared to spend big to bring the former Caen youngster to the Premier League in the summer.
They will surely return with offers in the summer, if not January.
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