Thomas Lemar’s persistent struggles in an Atlético Madrid shirt have made him a target for criticism amidst this team’s disappointing season. The World Cup winner has not contributed a goal or an assist since April and has missed the last month through injury as Atlético’s form has sunk since the Supercopa final loss to Real Madrid.
Atlético, of course, hope to arrest this ill-time slippage in form by signing Paris Saint-Germain forward and white whale Edinson Cavani this week. However, while various reports agree that Cavani’s entourage has sorted out his personal terms, there are conflicting accounts of whether PSG have accepted Atleti’s offer for the 32-year-old — said to be around €15 million excluding variables.
But Cavani’s arrival before Friday’s deadline is contingent on Atlético moving salary elsewhere from the current squad. Last season, the club had to send Gelson Martins to Monaco to facilitate Álvaro Morata’s transfer from Chelsea. It seemed as if the sacrificial lamb this season would be Lemar, the winger who no longer seems to be enjoying his stay in Madrid.
However, as is customary with Atlético, a month-long saga has unfurled as the club tries to land another high-profile player from a high-profile club. And if we believe Miguel Ángel Gil Marín, acquiring Cavani by Jan. 31 may have just gotten more difficult.
“Lemar is not for sale,” Atleti’s chief shareholder said in a statement to Goal on Tuesday. “There is no possibility that he can leave.”
The €70 million man has been linked with moves to Arsenal and Bayern Munich this month, but those clubs presumably balked at the asking price — last reported to be no lower than €50 million. Marcos Llorente was briefly mooted to be of interest to Manchester United, but the Red Devils are gazing longingly at Bruno Fernandes instead. Šime Vrsaljko’s value is low coming off a year-long absence.
This leaves Santiago Arias, the Colombia international who fell out of favor with Diego Simeone soon after his summer 2018 arrival. Vrsaljko’s re-entry into the team has made Arias expendable, and Goal reported that English and Italian teams would like to work out a deal for him. If so, Atlético would get the right back’s wages off the books and make a tidy profit on what was an €11 million investment 18 months ago.
We will have to wait and see how this situation really impacts Lemar, who is already an unhappy player low on confidence — and one who knows his club tried to sell him. Perhaps Atlético are waiting for the summer, where it will have more time and (so the hope goes) more suitors for the 24-year-old’s services. For now, though, Atleti are in a race against time to seal a deal for Cavani, which can only happen if someone else leaves on or before Friday.
Should Thomas Lemar be handed more chances to impress?
This poll is closed
Yes, he is still young and will have a role to play
No, he has been given enough time already