It looks like a significant breakthrough has occurred in contract talks between Atlético Madrid and midfielder Thomas Lemar.
Marca’s David Medina — who was one of several journalists beginning Monday night to report on Jan Oblak’s contract renewal — said Wednesday that Lemar has reached new terms of his own with Atlético. The 26-year-old is set to sign on the dotted line of a four-year contract extension, which will prolong his stay in Spanish capital until 2027.
The news, if confirmed, completes an incredible turnaround for Lemar, whose Atlético career began inauspiciously and hit its nadir during the 2019/20 season — when he failed to score a goal or provide an assist across 29 appearances.
Earlier this summer, it appeared again that Lemar was on the exit ramp out of the Cívitas Metropolitano. The France international’s current contract would have expired next year, and previous reports claimed Atlético wanted to sell him to free up space on an overflowing wage bill.
In addition, Atleti were being heavily-linked with a move for Valencia’s Carlos Soler as a replacement. Soler, a Spain international, is under contract with Los Che until next June, and he figures to receive widespread interest if he doesn’t renew.
For now, though, it seems new stadium naming and shirt sponsorship agreements have replenished the Rojiblanco accounts. These agreements have permitted Atlético to formalize new contracts for Oblak and Lemar — and likely end any Soler pursuit.
(As an aside, the new sponsorships should also help Atlético complete the signing of Udinese right-back Nahuel Molina. That deal, reportedly worth up to €20 million plus center-back Nehuén Pérez, appears imminent.)
Lemar has played 143 games in all competitions for Atlético, scoring nine goals and providing 16 assists. In LaLiga last season, he registered four goals and five assists in 24 games, the most goal contributions he’s notched in a league year since joining from AS Monaco in 2018. Diego Simeone’s decision to employ a 3-5-2 formation against certain opposition helped unlock Lemar after two difficult seasons to begin his Atleti tenure, and the coach has spoken glowingly about the player as his link between midfield and attack.
Lemar’s skill and talent have never been in doubt, but his ability to stay on the field and maintain consistent form fostered concerns about the feasibility of signing him long-term. Lemar has missed 41 league games out of a possible 114 over the past three seasons, but his familiarity with the club and its coach ultimately won out — Atlético’s board is wary of splashing cash to replace known quantities with unknown quantities.
Also, Lemar’s “unique” situation made a potential sale complicated. Atleti only own 70 percent of the player’s rights, and Monaco are entitled to a sizable percentage of a future transfer fee. Dumping Lemar just to dump him, four years after doling out €72 million to acquire him, would have been unwise business.
Due to injury, Lemar was unavailable down the stretch last season and during Atlético’s sprint to the league title the year before. However, he makes this team better when he’s healthy, as evidenced by the 3.87 shot-creating actions and 0.69 goal-creating actions he recorded per 90 minutes in 2021/22. If Lemar can stay fit and available, then Atleti’s decision-makers will have made the right choice in hanging onto him.