Tuesday 11 December 2018

Monaco pour cold water on Liverpool's links with Thomas Lemar...but that may not end this story

Thomas Lemar was the subject of a £90m transfer deadline day offer from Arsenal. Photo: AP
Thomas Lemar was the subject of a £90m transfer deadline day offer from Arsenal. Photo: AP
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Monaco boss Leonardo Jardim has insisted Liverpool will fail in any efforts to sign Thomas Lemar this month, but those words are unlikely to dilute interest in the France international from the Anfield club if Phillipe Coutinho moves to Barcelona.

Lemar's name was mentioned as a possible target for Liverpool when Philippe Coutinho was pushing for a move to Barca last summer, but their efforts were aborted after the Brazilian reluctantly remained at Anfield.

Now Coutinho is eager to join Barcelona once more and the natural link with Lemar has been raised once again, with Monaco making it clear that they have no intent of selling their French international in this transfer window.

“Monaco are not in the habit of making big sales in the winter,” said Monaco boss Jardim. “It’s our strategy. The players understand and they know how it goes here.”

They are cautious words that may not end Liverpool's interest in a player they were prepared to pay a club record fee to sign last summer, with the player said to be keen to make the move to Anfield.

Lemar had a chance to join Arsenal on transfer deadline day last August after the Gunners agreed a deal to sell Alexis Sanchez to Manchester City, but he rejected that offer amid claims that he was holding out for a move to Liverpool.

Despite Jardim's claims, Liverpool are likely to make a fresh offer for Lemar if Coutinho is successful in his bid to force through a move to Barcelona this month, with Monaco's willingness to sell the player last summer confirming he can be snapped up for the right price.

However, if Monaco's asking price for Lemar is set at the £90m fee they had agreed with Arsenal last summer, Liverpool may be tempted to switch their attentions to Leicester's Riyad Mahrez, with Reds boss Jurgen Klopp a stated admirer of the 2016 PFA Player of the Year.

Mahrez handed in a transfer request at Leicester last summer, but none of the top Premier League clubs moved to sign a player who has been in sparkling form this season.

Meanwhile, negotiations over Coutinho's move to Barcelona are continuing according to reports in Spain, with the player not available to take part in Friday night's FA Cup third round clash against local rivals Everton due to a 'thigh injury'.

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