Liverpool reportedly pushed for a then-club record signing of Thomas Lemar back in 2017. Their failure to do so now looks like an overwhelming success.
We all remember the links that summer. Lemar would join either Liverpool or Arsenal, with the Reds prepared to spend big. Bigger than they ever had before, in fact, with Sky Sports claiming they had two bids rejected by Monaco.
The first, £55.5m, would have set a new club record. They went even higher than that, though, offering £64.8m afterwards. Monaco, however, weren’t budging.
It’s easy to see why Liverpool wanted him. Lemar had been a key player in a wonderful Monaco side, scoring 11 and assisting 14 from midfield. But Monaco wouldn’t sell in a summer where they lost Benjamin Mendy, Bernardo Silva and Kylian Mbappe.
They forced Liverpool to move on from Lemar – and the Reds never looked back.
It’s not quite clear what Liverpool’s plans were. Presumably, Lemar would have played on the left of the midfield three, in a role somewhat similar to the one he had in Monaco’s 4-4-2.
Without Lemar’s attacking influence there, Jurgen Klopp had to improvise. That improvisation ended up being a solid midfield that covered attacking full-backs. Andy Robertson’s explosion into arguably the world’s best left-back wouldn’t have happened if Lemar was the attacking width on that side.
And while Liverpool blossomed into Europe’s best, Lemar moved to Atletico Madrid the following summer. Just a few months after Liverpool’s Champions League final defeat, Aleti paid £52.7m to sign the Frenchman (per the Guardian).
It’s no exaggeration to say that the move has been a disaster. Lemar’s first season finished with just three goals and three assists, while he’s yet to produce anything this season. It’s led to an article in Marca highlighting the player’s struggles.
His 16/17 campaign appears to have been a one-off. That player, the one Liverpool were reportedly ready to pay £64m for, looks very different now.
The Reds get a lot of praise for the transfer work. It’s no surprise, either – even when they fail, it somehow works out perfectly.