AS Monaco have reportedly put an £80 million price tag on Thomas Lemar in a bid to ward off interest from the likes of Arsenal, but Gunners boss Arsene Wenger still believes a deal can be done.
The Mirror's John Cross reported the French winger is Wenger's priority target, and Lemar is receptive to a move, but Arsenal would have to smash the transfer record they set when they brought in Alexandre Lacazette for £52 million earlier in July.
Despite Monaco's reluctance to part with any more stars, Wenger believes they can reach an agreement for the winger and is set to offload a number of players, perhaps in part to fund such a deal.
After a modest first campaign with Monaco, Lemar had a breakout season with the club last year as he helped them to the Ligue 1 title and to reach the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League. He finished with 14 goals and 17 assists to his name in all competitions.
The 21-year-old also showed himself to be among the most creative youngsters in Europe, per Squawka Football:
Squawka Football @Squawka
Most chances created by U23 players in Europe's top 5 leagues last season: Ross Barkley (84) Thomas Lemar (72) Nabil Fekir (64) Suso (62) https://t.co/ctnpOIzEyu2017-7-17 20:02:01
He would make for a fine capture for the Gunners and would be a stronger option than the majority of their current wide players.
Bleacher Report's James McNicholas offered some insight into Wenger's pursuit of Lemar:
I think Arsenal’s interest in Lemar has probably increased since Wenger decided Mbappe was likely to stay. (1/3)2017-7-15 18:12:44
Secondly, perhaps he views getting Lemar as something that could potentially influence Mbappe’s decision in a year’s time. (3/3)2017-7-15 18:14:13
However, while Monaco's desire to keep hold of him is understandable, even in today's market it's a phenomenal sum for Arsenal to consider paying, given he has just one excellent season under his belt.
What's more, his price tag is almost double the £43 million that Manchester City paid Monaco for Bernardo Silva, who had a similarly productive season.
Even taking into account Lemar being a year younger, and the fact that Monaco find themselves in a slightly different position having also sold Tiemoue Bakayoko, that still can't account for his value being twice as much as Silva's.
A substantial bid may test their resolve even if it falls some way short of his £80 million price tag, but if Monaco hold firm, there would probably be better options out there at that kind of price.