Diego Simeone Talks Thomas Lemar Disappointment Amid Arsenal, Spurs Rumours

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJanuary 3, 2020

MADRID, SPAIN - DECEMBER 14: Thomas Lemar of Atletico de Madrid looks on prior to the Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and CA Osasuna at Wanda Metropolitano on December 14, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone has said Thomas Lemar "hasn't been able to live up to expectations" at the club amid continued speculation regarding a possible transfer.

Lemar arrived at Atletico from Monaco in the summer of 2018, and he was considered one of the most exciting rising stars in European football having excelled in Ligue 1. However, he has struggled to adapt to life in the Spanish capital and La Liga.

Speaking on the eve of Atletico's La Liga clash with Levante, Simeone said he remains a big admirer of the player, albeit he couldn't guarantee he would be at the club beyond the midseason window, per Joe Wright of Goal:

"Facts speak better than words. Lemar is an important player who hasn't been able to develop his game but who has characteristics that others don't have. Let's hope he has a good moment when he comes back from injury.

"Now, if Lemar can stay or not...we know that agents work in an exemplary way. Clubs work in terms of the needs of the clubs. But, as a footballer, every time he has been available, he's played a lot more than he hasn't played.

"His characteristics have always excited me. But he hasn't been able to live up to expectations."

According to Foot Mercato (h/t Gareth Bicknell of the Daily Mirror), both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur are interested in signing the 24-year-old.

Spanish football writer David Cartlidge said in December he can't envisage Lemar becoming a regular at the Wanda Metropolitano:

David Cartlidge @davidjaca

In some regards Lemar hasn't helped himself but everything comes back to the same point; Simeone asked him to be something he's not. Will be a success at his next club and recapture Monaco form though.

Per The Spanish Football Podcast, Simeone has done a lot to try to draw more from the France international:

The Spanish Football Podcast @tsf_podcast

Lemar off for Atletico replaced by Correa. Simeone has really stuck by Lemar, played him, tried to get something out of him, but it's getting to the point where he surely cannot justify starting him any more.

Atletico have endured an inconsistent campaign, but they still sit in fourth place in the Spanish top flight. They've struggled for productivity and incision in the final third, with just 20 goals scored in their 18 La Liga games.

Lemar has started nine of those matches, as well as one in the UEFA Champions League. However, he's yet to register a goal or an assist in the 2019-20 campaign.

Per Spanish football writer Andy West, Lemar hasn't been involved enough in the game when given opportunities:

Andy West @andywest01

Thomas Lemar came on for Atletico in the 72nd minute, just as the game started to open up, and had four touches. Four! Appalling. He's consistently been a massive disappointment for Atleti and Simeone must be running out of patience.

Lemar is a shadow of the player who lit up Ligue 1, memorably helping Monaco win the title in the 2016-17 season. Playing off the left flank, Lemar's movement into dangerous areas, vision and set-piece proficiency made him a huge asset for the swashbuckling team.

At 24, there's every chance he can rediscover some form again soon, although at this point, with Simeone's belief in the midfielder seemingly beginning to seep away, it appears unlikely he'll kick on in Madrid.