Arsenal, as things stand, are very close to entering unchartered territory.
Every summer, the London club has been able to fall back on the knowledge they will be playing Champions League football during the next campaign.
That might not be the case in a couple of weeks.
Not only that, but they could start next season with a new manager for the first time in 21 years if Arsène Wenger decides to call it a day, or if the club agree it is now time to move on from the 67-year-old.
Currently fifth in the Premier League, Arsenal are four points behind third placed Liverpool with a game in hand.
That means there is still hope of a top-four finish, especially with Jürgen Klopp’s men needing to face West Ham at the London Stadium, the very place where the title race was all but decided last Friday when the Hammers beat Tottenham 1-0.
And even if Slaven Bilic does mastermind another unlikely win/draw, Arsenal need to navigate a couple of tricky fixtures themselves, playing Stoke away and ending their season by hosting Everton, who will undoubtedly want to give their travelling fans a decent send off.
Why are we discussing this, you might ask?
The reason for this is an article published by the Daily Mail on Wednesday evening claiming Arsenal are ‘eyeing a move’ for Thomas Lemar in the upcoming transfer window.
On paper, that makes a lot of sense.
After all, the Monaco winger is a very talented footballer, exemplified by his performances throughout his club’s fantastic season, scoring 14 goals and providing 13 assists in 52 appearances.
Most big clubs are likely to be keeping an eye on the 21-year-old, but whether now is the time to leave remains to be seen, especially to a club like Arsenal.
Lemar has everything going for him in the principality: he’s guaranteed to start, competing for titles, playing in the Champions League, and is at a club with a clear project that is undoubtedly working under Leonardo Jardim.
The same cannot be said about all those things at the Emirates.
The young forward and his entourage have a clear career plan in mind, and uncertainty doesn’t fall into it, as his father explained to Ouest-France.
He said: “Everything will happen when it’s meant to. Today, Thomas is with the Ligue 1 leaders. There isn’t a specific forecast. We’re just in the logic of development, and this comes through time on the pitch, which he has at Monaco.
“There are sometimes financial parameters you cannot control, but I think the plan is for him to stay one or two more years at Monaco. He has his ambition, his objectives, which includes wanting to go a bit further. In this business, the player has his part to say, but he isn’t always the one to decide.”
Then there’s the small matter of the whether his current club want to sell him.
Lemar still has three years left on his contract with the principality club, and considering how well he’s done this year, Monaco’s valuation is bound to be higher than the fee the Daily Mail put forward in their article.
They state ‘an offer in-excess of £25m could tempt the French club into selling’, yet if they are also going to receive similar offers for players like Tiemoué Bakayoko and Bernardo Silva (both far likelier to leave this summer and for predicted fees of £30m or more), there is no need to sell.
Don’t get us wrong, Monaco are always looking for a healthy profit, but they are also aware they cannot have a complete squad overhaul every summer if they want to remain competitive and build on this season’s successes.
Let two, maybe three, players move on every year (and replace them with more young talent), but not five or six.
Add to the list the potential departure of Benjamin Mendy (the arrival of Jorge in January is an indicator it could happen), and there’s your three.
We’ve always predicted Silva, one of either Bakayoko/Fabinho and Sidibé/Mendy would be the ones to leave this summer, and we stand by that.
Lemar waving goodbye to the State Louis II for Arsenal doesn’t make sense just yet. Not this summer.