Thomas Lemar: Transfer Flop or Victim of Atletico Madrid System?


Since swapping Monaco for Atletico Madrid in 2016 for £70 million, Thomas Lemar hasn’t exactly justified the excessive fee. In fact, he has done anything but. Instead of living up to the hype, Lemar failed to show any signs of life. 

When in Monaco, many believed he was one of the best wingers on the market; he was young, quick, skilful and had a keen eye for the perfect pass when at his best. Yet, just two years later and he looks like Atletico Madrid’s most disposable player after recording not one goal involvement in the season just gone.

It has to be said, however, that Lemar is not the first and will not be the last attacker to fail in Diego Simeone’s defensive system.

Is Lemar a Victim of Simeone’s System?

Warning Signs Should Have Given Atletico Second Thoughts

In the 16/17 season, Thomas Lemar, at the age of 20, was flying in Ligue 1 with Monaco. The Frenchman looked the real deal, attracting interest from the likes of Liverpool. And, after scoring 14 goals and assisting a further 18, the attraction from the very best was understandable at the time. 

The move never transpired, though, and Lemar was left to lose out on another league title to Paris Saint-Germain, a year after taking Monaco to champions status, instead of reaching new heights elsewhere.

The natural action to take at that stage would have been to keep his head down and continue his progression. But, the fact is, when a player doesn’t want to be somewhere, performances will undoubtedly be affected. And this is precisely what happened in Lemar’s case. The Frenchman followed a year of 32 goal involvements with as little as 13 the next season. 

Throughout the season, Lemar looked anything but a £70 million player. So, how did Atletico Madrid end up paying such an inflated fee? The warning signs of a flop were there, and they should have paid closer attention to them. 

Warning Signs Were Also There for Lemar

The warning signs were clear as day from Atletico Madrid’s point of view, but what about Lemar? The Frenchman thrived in a free-flowing Monaco side moulded for the pace and skill of Mbappe and himself. So, when choosing a club for guaranteed progression, Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid side should have never been an option.

At the time, they were the complete opposite of an exciting Monaco team. While Monaco’s attacking play was some of the best around, giving attackers the license of creative freedom, Atletico Madrid were asking forwards to sit deep, occasionally counter and chase and scrap for every loose ball. From an expressive role, Thomas Lemar was going to a more confined and disciplined one under Simeone. The Frenchman, based on his strengths and weaknesses, was always unlikely to succeed in Madrid.

If the former Monaco man had chosen elsewhere, perhaps a more attack based setup, we could be mentioning him among the best young talents in the world right now. Instead, after choosing Atletico, he is mentioned as one of the biggest transfer flops to date.

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