Every weekend we pick out one under-23 player from around Europe and analyse their performance to provide you with an in-depth scouting report.
This week, Ligue 1 provides the opening stage of competitive action as defending champions Monaco edged out Toulouse 3-2.
Brazilian Neymar may dominate the headlines and bring renewed hope to Paris Saint-Germain but Monaco showed they won’t be giving up their Ligue 1 crown easily with a stoic performance.
PSG will expect €222million-man Neymar to fire them not just to domestic glory but also European success following his sensational move from Barcelona.
But Monaco are the champions and proved in their Ligue 1 opener they will provide a formidable challenge to the mega-rich Parisians with goals from Brazilian Jemerson, Colombia’s Radamel Falcao and Kamil Glik of Poland allowing them to twice come from behind and snatch three points.
We focus on one man, though, and analyse the performance of 21-year-old Arsenal and Liverpool target Thomas Lemar.
Goals – 0
Shots – 4 (Tied first)
Shots on target – 1 (Tied second)
Touches – 73 (Fifth)
Passes – 47 (Fifth)
Key passes – 3 (Tied second)
Dribbles – 1 (Tied second)
Dispossessed – 1 (Tied second)
Operating in his habitual left-wing spot in a two behind Radamel Falcao and Kylian Mbappe, the 21-year-old was cemented to the touchline for the majority of the first half as Monaco’s pedestrian pace of play in the opening 20 minutes saw him rarely used as an outlet.
He dropped deeper to link up with and allow the rampaging full-back Jorge to deliver the ball into the box, though, the avenue was largely shut off.
Lemar’s lack of movement was frustrating and so too his tenancy to misplace passes but after the break he started to make more of an impression with his set-piece play particularly impressing.
From corners and free-kicks his laser-like left foot frequently found a target and his only shot on target came from a deliciously curled set-piece from around 30 yards out.
He switched onto the right five minutes before the hour mark as the champions found themselves 2-1 down and he showed more desire to get in behind as Falcao and Gilk eventually put them ahead.
It was an otherwise quiet display from the France international.
36th min – He was dispossessed on the edge of the Toulouse box and the visitors countered through the goalscorer Zinedine Machach but last-man Jemerson expertly slid across to shuffle the ball out of danger.
47th min – Cut inside from his left-wing position and was bundled to the floor around 30 yards out. The Frenchman displayed his set-piece prowess as Toulouse stopper Alban Lafont sprawled across his goalline to narrowly tip his stunning effort around the post for a corner.
67th min – Switched out onto the right side and sprinted deep into Toulouse territory but infuriatingly he misplaced a deep pass back and the visitors were free of danger
84th min – Back out onto the left for the last 10 minutes as Toulouse chased an equaliser, he found space on the edge of the box and as he ran onto the ball, shot first time but skied his effort well over the bar
A solid but not spectacular performance.
There is quality in that left foot no doubt about it as his teasing crosses had the Toulouse backline penned back at times but he needed to show a little more appetite in searching for the ball.
He was fixed to the touchline too much for the first hour, though, he did show a little more enterprise when moved onto the right.
Still, a performance which showed a glimpse of what he has to offer, particularly from dead-ball positions.