Arsenal: Barcelona stealing the prized possession once again

MONACO - AUGUST 25: Thomas Lemar (L) of Monaco is tackled by Danilo Barbosa of Valencia during the UEFA Champions League qualifying round play off second leg match between Monaco and Valencia on August 25, 2015 in Monaco, Monaco. (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
MONACO - AUGUST 25: Thomas Lemar (L) of Monaco is tackled by Danilo Barbosa of Valencia during the UEFA Champions League qualifying round play off second leg match between Monaco and Valencia on August 25, 2015 in Monaco, Monaco. (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images) /
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Like Cesc Fabregas before and Hector Bellerin this summer, Barcelona are again trying to seal Arsenal’s prized possession. This time, though, it’s Thomas Lemar, and Arsene Wenger’s pursuit could well be in jeopardy.

Barcelona have a habit of trying to steal Arsenal’s most prized possession. In 2010 and then 2011, it was Cesc Fabregas, who had elevated his level to a truly elite quality after a series of years elegantly playing his way through the heart of the Gunners’ midfield. Earlier this summer, it was Hector Bellerin, viewed as a replacement for Dani Alves. And now, they are trying for a third time.

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It was the Fabregas move that was perhaps the most frustrating. While there was no one in particular to blame — Barcelona made a fair offer, Arsenal accepted the offer and Fabregas wanted to go –, such was the Spaniard’s transcendent ability, that seeing him leave was like having the creative heart ripped out of the side.

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Bellerin still remains at the Emirates with no formal offer ever made. There was interest the previous summer, in 2016, and again this year, but that has never materialised into a genuine and sustained pursuit. Nevertheless, there is an air of repeatability about the situation, as if it is mirroring the Fabregas saga. It seems like a matter of when, not if.

And now Barcelona, per Sky Sports, are set to enter the race for Monaco winger Thomas Lemar, seeing the Frenchman as the perfect replacement for Neymar, who, staggeringly, joined Paris Saint-Germain just a few days prior in a world-record £198 million transfer.

Lemar has been the apple of Arsene Wenger’s so far this summer, with three separate bids having been made for his services. Monaco, though, have remained resolute, continually stating that he will not be sold this summer, pointing to the exodus of talent thus far as a reason for such a stance.

But the greater clout and financial power of Barcelona could be what sways a sale in their favour. Could you blame a bright but unpolished 21-year-old for wanting to play with Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta? And could you blame Monaco for selling if they received a silly offer that they have been looking for and that Barcelona have the finances to pay?

Lemar is the type of player that Arsenal should be pursuing. Young, gifted, attacking. He is the perfect complement to Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil and has the potential to replace the former if the expected departure next summer happens.

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However, with Monaco’s increased resistance and Barcelona entering the race, the task to complete his signature has got a whole lot tougher. Wenger has lost his stars to the Catalan giants before. He won’t want to lose another.