Atletico Madrid are said to have agreed a deal with Monaco to sign French winger Thomas Lemar this summer, according to a statement from the official club website, which will leave a number of Premier League sides feeling disappointed.
The 22-year-old is currently away on international duty ahead of the World Cup, but both clubs are reportedly keen on finalising the transfer before then, according to Sky Sports.
The news will come as a blow to Liverpool, who have closely courted the player for a number of years – notably throughout last season – with reports from the Independent suggesting Lemar had chosen a move to Merseyside over Arsenal in January.
Jurgen Klopp reportedly made a £55 million bid for the player’s services last summer, but Monaco were unwilling to lose more key members of the team, having already lost Tiemoue Bakayoko to Chelsea, Benjamin Mendy to Manchester City and Kylian Mbappe to Paris Saint-Germain. That meant Lemar and new Reds midfielder Fabinho had to remain at the Stade Louis II for an extra season.
The Reds were expected to revisit their interest in Lemar this summer after the collapse of Nabil Fekir’s highly anticipated switch, as Klopp looks to bolster his attacking options having been reminded that squad depth is a powerful thing in the Champions League final.
Rumours surrounding the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri (Mirror) and Ousmane Dembele (Mirror) suggest Liverpool are still prioritising bringing in high-profile attackers and Lemar certainly belongs in that bracket.
His best return came a year ago, with the former Caen forward amassing an impressive 14 goals and 17 assists in all competitions, sparking the initial interest from Europe’s elite.
A year on, the Europa League champions appear to have won the race, and Liverpool will have to look elsewhere.