Liverpool and Arsenal are set to do battle once more over Thomas Lemar next summer.
Monaco chief Vadim Vasilyev has confirmed that he expects the player will leave the French champions following the World Cup, declaring: "it's right to let players go."
Lemar, 21, was targeted by both Jurgen Klopp and Arsene Wenger late in the summer transfer window, with Vasilyev revealing Arsenal were "really close" to sealing a £92million deadline day deal - until Lemar pulled the plug.
Liverpool had medical staff on standby to travel to Paris as they attempted to thrash out a deal, before switching target to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Both sides retain a long-standing interest in the left-sided France international, who cost Monaco just £4million in 2015 when he joined from Caen.
Lemar saw a host of his title-winning teammates - including Bernardo Silva, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Kylian Mbappe - depart during the summer following Monaco's Ligue 1 success and run to the Champions League semi-finals.
And while speculation continues to link him with a January move, he is reticent to move mid-season - particularly in a World Cup year.
For Vasilyev, a switch in January makes little sense for Monaco also.
“Liverpool were really interested,” Monaco’s vice-president told Sky Sports. “But it was Arsenal that was really close to finalising the deal. It was quite close.
"At the same time it was just too late, not enough time, to really follow up on this deal. Not all the elements of the puzzle fell in place.
"I’m very happy he stayed with us. For us, we need a player like Thomas Lemar. He’s very important to our team.
"[But] definitely next summer will be something to look at, although you know in football there are no guarantees. We had some players who were supposed to leave this summer but didn’t because of X, Y, Z.
"I think it would be fair to say Thomas will have a fair chance to exit next year. January, in football, never say never, but this is not what we’re thinking of, this is really not in our plans.
"January doesn’t seem like the right time for major changes in the team."
Source: Daily Mirror
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