Arsenal: Thomas Lemar rejection tilts scales towards Riyad Mahrez

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 18: Riyad Mahrez of Leicester City during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur at The King Power Stadium on May 18, 2017 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)
LEICESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 18: Riyad Mahrez of Leicester City during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur at The King Power Stadium on May 18, 2017 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images) /
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Arsenal’s £31 million bid for Thomas Lemar was rejected by Monaco. That tilts the transfer scales towards Riyad Mahrez as the club looks to bolster their wide options.

While the beliefs of some of the more ambitious, optimistic, naive fans may suggest otherwise, any football club, including Arsenal, can only sign a maximum number of players. There is no rule dictating this. But is is simple economics and logic. The more players you buy, the more you must spend. If you have too many players, then no new players will want to join as there is no opportunity to play.

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That is why, each and every summer, managers must often choose one or the other. They must weigh up the vices and virtues of each signing — the price, the quality of the player, the complimentary styles of the player and the team, the need for the position etc. — and make a decision based on which they think will be the most beneficial for their club.

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That is what Arsene Wenger is currently doing with Riyad Mahrez and Thomas Lemar. It seems as though Alexis Sanchez is on his way out of the club. As a result, Arsenal need a replacement, and Wenger has highlighted Mahrez and Lemar as those options. However, such is the similarity of their positions and the price that they will cost, it is probable that he will only be able to sign one.

Both players have their strengths and weaknesses. While Lemar is much younger, at just 21 years of age, Mahrez has extensive experience of the Premier League and has proven that he can handle the unique challenges that English football offers. While Mahrez is a pacy, direct dribbler, who likes to drive at defenders, gliding past them with ease and elegance, Lemar is a slower but more creative, incisive player, capable of unpicking defences with cute reverse passes and sliding through balls.

Per recent reports, Arsenal have had a £31 million offer rejected for Lemar, with Monaco allegedly remaining resilient amid a vast array of sales, seeing their squad decimated.

That news tips the scales in the favour of Mahrez. Perhaps it is the case that Wenger would, of the two players, rather sign Lemar. However, as time passes and stress builds, an element of realism must begin to take the wheel.

It is not that Wenger does not rate or admire Mahrez. In a vacuum, he would happily sign the Algerian. But given that an offer has not yet been made for him, and one has been for Lemar, it is reasonable to deduce that Wenger prefers his fellow Frenchman.

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That offer, though, was rejected, and Wenger may be forced into ‘settling’ for Mahrez. Neither would be a bad signing and it will be interesting to see which avenue Wenger chooses to explore.