Arsenal Leading Race to Sign Olympique Lyon Midfielder Houssem Aouar

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According to reports in France, Olympique Lyon are willing to sell Houssem Aouar this summer and Arsenal are among the leading candidates to sign the midfielder. The Gunners have held a long-term interest in Aouar and are looking to revive their interest in the upcoming transfer window.

The North London side are in search of a central midfielder ahead of the 2022/23 season and have been linked to several candidates such as Leicester’s Youri Tielemans and Fabian Ruiz of Napoli. With Lyon finishing 8th in Ligue 1 and with no chance of European football next season, Houssem Aouar is back on the Arsenal radar once more.

Image Obtained via Football365

The North London side made a strong effort to sign France international in the summer of 2020. They submitted bids worth around £ 35million, but Lyon’s president, Jean-Michel Aulas, refused to budge over their £ 53million valuation. Since the Gunners had splashed their budget to bring in Thomas Partey that season, they did not have the requisite amount to sign the 23-year-old as well.

Arsenal pursued Houssem Aouar again before the 2020/21 season got underway, but eventually decided against signing the Lyon midfielder, spending the budget on other options. Last summer, Aulas had already softened his stance on the Frenchman, lowering his asking price to £ 25m.

Now, according to The Sun, a move to sign Houssem Aouar is back on the cards for Arsenal this summer with Lyon announcing they are open to selling the player. His deal expires in 2023 and negotiations for a new contract have stalled.

The French club are desperate to offload the player in the upcoming transfer window to avoid him leaving for free next season. They have further lowered their asking price and could sell him for as little as £ 12.6m, as reported by Foot Mercato (via Football London).

How Houssem Aouar Would Fit in Arteta’s System?

The 23-year-old midfielder has six goals and four assists from 36 appearances this season (stats via Transfermarkt). From Arsenal’s midfield, Martin Odegaard has done the bulk of scoring in the 2021/22 season with seven goals and five assists (stats via Transfermarkt).

Aouar is an excellent number eight and would be a great replacement and certainly an upgrade to Granit Xhaka. The French midfielder has dribbled past 55 players this season, while the Swiss central midfielder went past only 11.

Image Obtained via Arsenal News

It is Aouar’s ability to be press resistant that is most impressive about him. He has similar ball-retention qualities to PSG midfielder Marco Verratti. Wiith Arteta favoring a slow build-up possession-based system, he would fit perfectly into the set-up.

On the defensive side, Aouar’s stats have room for improvement. He engages in 4.49 defensive duels per 90 minutes, 1.9 interceptions per 90 and has an overall 4.42 successful defensive actions per 90. The stats do not look that bad but show the need for an industrious midfielder alongside him – someone like Thomas Partey, the ideal candidate.

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Verdict

Arsenal have been given the incentive to try and finally sign Houssem Aouar from Lyon. It is a deal that has been waiting to happen over the years, and due to competition for other midfield transfer targets this summer, he might finally get the chance to come to the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners will have other priority areas to strengthen – with the likes of Gabriel Jesus for striker position, Aaron Hickey for left-back cover, and then, they will probably look for a midfielder. So with the budget constraints in place, Aouar will be a shrewd signing in the middle of the park that will help Mikel Arteta complete his mission to get a Champions League spot next season.

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