Mauricio Lemos ignored Barcelona’s overtures this summer because he preferred to focus on playing regular football at Las Palmas, where he feels he’s better placed to progress at this stage in his career.
The player was subject to a €12 million bid from Barca after add ons in the summer, according to sources. Real Madrid were also interested in the Uruguayans signature. The Catalan giants were keen to add Lemos, despite the arrival of Samuel Umtiti, 22, from Lyon for €25 million.
So who just is he? Sam May gives the rundown of all you need to know.
Name: Mauricio Lemos
Place of birth: Rivera, Uruguay
Position: Centre Back
Club: Las Palmas
Born in Rivera, Lemos was a Defensive Sporting youth graduate and leapfrogged to the first team at the age of 18 and made his debut in 1-2 defeat to Montevideo Wanderers, but only went on to make seven appearances.
In June 2015, he joined Russian Premier League side FC Rubin Kazan, for a year and made his debut in a 1-0 away defeat to Spartak Moscow. He later swapped Russia for Spain and moved to his current club Las Palmas on-loan before being joining the Canary Islanders permanently on a five-year deal.
Style of Play
Know as fast and aggressive, he is certainly a Uruguayan senior centre back for the future. He has been overlooked for a first team birth due to the form of Atletico Madrid centre backs Diego Godín and young centre halve José Giménez who have both been standout performers.
He made his international debut for the Under 20 side in the 2015 World Cup in New Zealand, so it wont be long before he progresses to the first team and clocks up some minutes.
Similar to that of Diego Godín, Lemos mirrors his fellow countryman and likes to be a leader. He has personality on the pitch, which matches that of his idol Diego Lugano.
The youngster has also played as a centre midfielder, due to his technical control on the ball and is calm and assured under pressure. It maybe a risk to play him out of position, but he adapts well.
A buyout clause of €30 million has been inserted on the player. Being a confident, but classy centre halve you are able to see why. The defender is good at intercepting, blocking shots and moves the ball forward well.
Where would he fit in, if Barcelona come back calling?
There is no doubt the youngster has bags of talents. It proves to be a wise choice for the youngster to continue his professional development with Las Palmas before deciding to move to bigger things. He would be seen as the perfect replacement for Javier Mascherano in three years time or even a natural successor to Gerard Pique if he continues to perform well.
Lemos may also replace Jérémy Mathieu or Thomas Vermaelen who is on-loan at Roma, as both could be moved on next summer. At just 20-years-old, Lemos’ best years surely await him, and his versatility would also serve him well at the Camp Nou. Securing a place in Enrique’s team would be a big challenge, but Lemos certainly has the talent to make an impact. His contract runs out in June 2021, but don’t expect him to see out his contract.