Le50 2017 – Thomas Lemar
Thomas Lemar may go down as one of the unluckiest youngsters to have emerged in France over recent times. Were it not for the explosive arrivals of Ousmane Dembele and Kylian Mbappe, Lemar would have almost certainly been awarded back-to-back Ligue 1 Best Young Player of the Season awards. Unfortunately for the Monaco wideman, he’ll have to settle for being chased by some of Europe’s biggest sides.
Last season, Lemar took his form to new heights as he gained both international recognition and a Ligue 1 title with Monaco. Playing an integral role on the left wing in Leonardo Jardim’s simple but hugely effective 4-4-2, Lemar formed one of Europe’s most exciting partnerships as he and Benjamin Mendy tormented defences both domestically and in European competition.
Key to Lemar’s talent is the possession of an absolutely majestic left foot. Playing wide on the flanks, he can deliver crosses and through balls with devastating accuracy, as his 10 assists last season (only beaten by Morgan Sanson) can attest. As can be expected from a player with such abilities, his free kicks and shots from distance add further weapons to his arsenal. 14 goals in all competitions last season was his best total by some distance and included several spectacular and important efforts such as winning goals in both Champions League group games against Tottenham Hotspur, and against Marseille in the Coupe de France last 16 encounter.
Aside from that magical left boot, Lemar is also blessed with a considerable number of additional attributes which have brought him to the attention of the wider world. Whilst perhaps not quite to the same level as former teammate Bernardo Silva, Lemar looks completely at ease when running with the ball at his feet and possesses enough pace and skill to beat his man. His willingness to track back and help out defensively aided his link up play with teammate Mendy, helping establish one of the Europe’s best wide pairings. Whilst playing out on the wing for practically all of last season, Lemar is capable of playing in a more central role behind the strikers. However there is no doubting he cemented himself as the best left winger in the league last season.
Having quickly become a key member of Jardim’s attractive Monaco side, it was with all-round pleasure and approval that Lemar made the step-up from les Espoirs to be rewarded with a call up by Didier Deschamps into the French senior side in November 2016 for the games against Sweden and the Ivory Coast. He made his debut in a brief appearance against the African side and has gone on to become a regular selection for les Bleus.
Refreshingly in this day and age, Lemar tries to maintain as private a life as is possible for a professional footballer, a sign of the level-headedness that he possesses. There’s no Twitter account, which has been the downfall of some players in recent times, and his Instagram profile gives no “behind the scenes” glimpses into his life away from the pitch. It simply highlights how focussed he is on training, performing at his best and ensuing he reaches his goals throughout his career. However, coming off the back of his best season to date and being an integral part of a side which achieved domestic league success and a Champions League semi-final appearance, Lemar is finding himself more and more in the spotlight. Whilst Monaco are keen to hold on to their star winger, links with Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool and Atletico Madrid seem to indicate a big money offer is surely imminent.
Wherever Lemar ends up, which could still be Monaco for another year, his undoubted natural talent and desire to retain a level of “normality” means that he will deserve every ounce of success that he achieves.