It appears Thomas Lemar may be off to Liverpool this summer with Jürgen Klopp seeing him as the perfect option to replace Coutinho. Things could have been very different had Arsenal managed to sign the French international on deadline day, but Arsenal fans must surely be glad to see the pintsized attacker heading to Merseyside.
When Arsenal were linked, Lemar was touted as a replacement for Alexis Sanchez, despite them being completely different players. Lemar is much more like Coutinho, although some way off the Brazilian’s level. He is a creative, dribbling winger who has recently moved into the centre of midfield – not a goal scoring dynamite like Alexis.
With the move falling through, Arsenal looked elsewhere, adding Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and it’s safe to say the pair are a level above that of the Monaco attacker. This has seemingly ended Arsenal’s interest, despite links to Malcom, Hirving Lozano and Bailey persisting, meaning Arsenal do not rate Lemar highly enough as an attacking option.
Instead, Arsenal must look to his Monaco teammate, Fabinho. The 6 ‘ 4 Brazilian is cut from the same cloth as Gilberto Silva, mopping up play, driving through the middle and offering a cool, disciplined head in a highly attack minded side. This is what Arsenal have lacked for the last decade.
Like Arsenal, Monaco play attacking, expansive football, so Fabinho is accustomed to taking the bulk of the defensive responsibilities at club level. It’s a role he thrives in, and his passing ability ensures that he doesn’t just break up play and give it to someone who can play, he can start attacks and spray passes all over the field. This was one of the biggest criticisms of Francis Coquelin, who despite his defensive awareness offered very little going forward.
Fabinho also offers a little versatility, showing the ability to slot in at right back when needed. This understanding would offer cover when Bellerin is injured, but would also allow him to tuck in for the Spaniard when he is attacking, something which Xhaka seems unable to grasp at present.
Despite his ball playing qualities, Arsenal must look at Fabinho’s discipline as the main reason to sign him. If he was to arrive, he would likely play alongside Ramsey of Wilshere, both of whom like to go forward. Fabinho’s discipline would ensure the back four was protected when they went forward, thus reducing being exposed on the counter, and making Ramsey / Wilshere play to their strengths, which would ultimately improve the attacking performance of this Arsenal team.