Monday 26 February 2018

Arsenal told one of their chief transfer targets will not be moving this summer

"London's this way" - Mbappe, right, and Lemar are reported Arsenal targets

Ed Maylon

Monaco do not expect to sell Thomas Lemar this summer and have told Arsenal and Tottenham, two of his keenest followers, that he isn't on the market.

Arsenal bid £31m for the French international this week but their offer was rejected and the French champions were "surprised" by how low the Gunners' bid was.

The Principality club were always going to need serious convincing to part with the 21-year-old winger, who they believe will become a superstar. Arsenal's wild valuation suggested, according to sources in France, that their interest in the wideman is not genuine enough.

Tottenham had previously shown an interest in the France starlet but they have now ended their pursuit and will not bid for Lemar, who scored a Champions League winner against them at Wembley in the autumn.

Arsenal scouts were watching Lemar that night as they have been for years, since he was at Caen. Lemar was born in Guadeloupe, an overseas department of France in the Caribbean, but moved to the mainland in 2010 to join Caen.

Quickly he was fast-tracked into France's Under-17 squad, where he caught the eye of both Arsenal and Barcelona, before progressing through the age-group squads.

Monaco invested in Lemar after an impressive showing at the Toulon Tournament of 2015, signing him to a five-year deal and paying around £3m for his services. But even with Arsenal offering ten times that this summer, the hierarchy at Monaco believe that with another good season in Ligue 1 and the Champions League, Lemar could fetch closer to £75m.

With Bernardo Silva already having departed the club for £43m and Tiemoue Bakayoko set to leave for around £35m, Monaco aren't struggling for cash this summer.

Kylian Mbappe is wanted by Real Madrid in a deal that would break the world transfer record, extending well into nine figures, and Benjamin Mendy and Fabinho remain in talks over further exits that would net Monaco an extra £70-80m.

So selling Lemar is not something Monaco will do unless they receive a bid that is too good to turn down. Far from doing that, Arsenal's offer merely made the club more determined to hold onto a 21-year-old star on the rise.

Independent News Service

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