In the final stretch of last season, with the disarray of the old guard taken for granted, the leaks of Lucas, Rodrigo and Griezmann confirmed, Diego Pablo Simeone He wanted to send a message of tranquility. He appealed to the economic situation of the club to go to the market with guarantees and pointed to Thomas Lemar (Guadeloupe, France, 22 years old), the most talented footballer of those who were to remain, as one of the flags of the new project that he had to design. "I'm sure Lemar is going to break it next season," Simeone predicted. He didn't say it only once, but several. I had the belief the Cholo of that after the first year of adaptation The best of Lemar would be to come.
That optimism towards the figure of the light French footballer imbued Simeone's first decisions since the preseason. He granted him the title in the first four LaLiga matches and in the European premiere against Juve. Zero assists and zero goals are your records. With more than two months of competition, Lemar, the most expensive signing in club history – 70 million euros received Monaco for 80% of his pass – from the club to João Felix, had never been so many consecutive games (three) on the bench by technical decision. His last meeting as a starter, in Anoeta (2-0), already began to glimpse his fall from the team. He was retired to rest. After the appointment of San Sebastián, muscular problems separated him from the matches against Celta and Mallorca. Since then, Lemar has not returned to ownership. With the double point Morata-Costa occupying the attack in the last matches, João Felix went to one side and the other was distributed, according to the opponent of the day, or Koke or Saul.
For some of the tests with which Simeone worked on Monday the game against Bayer Leverkusen (18.55, Movistar Champions League), Lemar also does not point to the starting eleven. A four-wheel rhombus, with Herrera, Thomas, Saul and Koke as the vertex would take him out of the lineup.
With João Félix's absence due to injury, Lemar's possible substitution points to another talent player who has not just established himself as that fourth creative midfielder who has not been with Simeone since the time of the best Arda Turan. Oliver Torres, Sosa, the second stage of Diego Ribas, Carrasco, Gaitán and Vitolo have not been able to establish themselves as the differential players that were announced when they were hired. Nor so far Lemar. Correa, who points to a possible Costa couple, has been the only one who seemed to have Simeone's confidence in a position that is not his. Some better than others, at some point everyone tried to add to their football the returns and defensive work demanded by Simeone. Everyone ended up looking worse for players than they are in a stylistic context that doesn't favor them. Everyone, at some point, lost the coach's confidence.
Lemar's talent, price and complicity with Griezmann meant that Simeone made him last year one of the players for whom he has bet more on the performance offered. Instructed by Griezmann since his arrival at the convenience of the defensive effort, Lemar is one of the clear examples of individual involution in the Simeone era. He has never denied the player's efforts to please him with his defensive work. The result, for the moment, has been that a player has been seen who has run better backwards than forward, failure in one-on-one maneuvers and in the pass. There have barely been traces of the fresh soccer player who dazzled so many coaches and analysts with Kylian Mbappé in Monaco. The criticisms of Simeone for the bad game that Atlético displays are partly related to the failure of that list of players called to give inside play, last pass and continuity to the offensive football of the team. All the virtues that brought together Lemar and justified its high price last summer. A year later, he is the last untapped talent in Atlético de Simeone.