Transfer Analysis: Atletico Madrid's latest signing, Thomas Lemar
Atletico Madrid has reached an agreement with Monaco to sign Thomas Lemar. The move is still subject to a medical. Having reportedly been targeted by many European clubs, notably Arsenal and Liverpool, the France international has agreed on a deal with Los Rojiblancos.
Atletico de Madrid and AS Monaco have achieved a preliminary agreement over the transfer of Thomas Lemar to our club. Over the next days, both clubs will work to close the agreement for the definitive transfer.
Atletico's transfer ban, imposed by FIFA from summer 2016 to January this year, meant the club couldn't register new players. It had an instant effect. During the following campaign's first half, Diego Simeone's men struggled in La Liga. They picked up only two wins from seven games between 23 October to 12 December, losing five times. Adjusting to their new home, the Wanda Metropolitano, wasn't the only issue. Lack of squad depth, injuries and the same players week in, week out were other major factors.
After Diego Costa's return six months ago, Atleti improved massively. They finished second in the league, one place above city rivals Real Madrid.
It is evident that delving into the transfer market has brought about a drastic change in Los Colchoneros' fortunes. Things will only get better once Lemar links up.
The Frenchman had his breakout season in 2016/17. His 11 goals and 14 assists helped Monaco win Ligue 1 for the first time in 17 years. They also reached the Champions League semi-final. Lemar was an integral component of Leonardo Jardim's free-scoring side.
This season, the Guadeloupe-born attacker wasn't as effective. Les Monegasques, however, were weaker as a whole following several key departures. It was destined Lemar would leave, too. No one suspected Atletico as his next destination.
Style of play
At 5''7', Lemar's small physique means although he lacks physicality, his excellent balance and composure on the ball more than make up for it. The 22-year-old reads the game brilliantly. Such intelligence helps him pierce through deep defences, averaging around two successful crosses per match.
Lemar is predominantly left-footed, but he uses both feet effectively in the final third. His versatility is another asset. Jardim generally used him on the left wing. Simeone may deploy him on either the right or in the number ten role, offering freedom just behind Costa.
What makes Lemar stand out is an ability to position correctly. Especially in counter-attacking situations. He either dribbles and attracts opposing defenders to free up teammates or provides through passes to unlock defences from deeper areas.
Lemar only has two weaknesses. His physique and decision making. With every three successful passes, he makes an inaccurate one. His 50% long-ball accuracy, shooting and anticipation will all improve with age.
Where will he fit at Atletico?
Lemar would flourish out wide in Simeone's 4-4-2 system. Yannick Carrasco and Nicolas Gaitan's departures to China in January made signing a left winger Atleti's main priority.
In recent times, Los Rojiblancos have lacked the character to complement Angel Correa's width on the right. Both Saul Niguez and Koke tried but failed. Lemar can solve the issue. He also contributes defensively, with aggressive high-pressing. Working with Costa, the duo would regain possession easily.
Simeone has helped many players reach their full potential. Antoine Griezmann is the prime example. At such a young age, the sky is Lemar's limit. Atletico are signing a prodigious talent.