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Houssem Aouar to Arsenal transfer looking less likely

Today’s reports are not good news for the Gunners’ transfer hopes. The two clubs may be too far apart on Aouar’s valuation to get a deal done.

Manchester City v Lyon - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Photo by Franck Fife/Pool via Getty Images

Arsenal’s transfer pursuit of Houssem Aouar was dealt a double blow today. Lyon told L’Equipe that neither Aouar nor Memphis Depay would be sold this window and that the deadline set by owner Jean-Michel Aulas for transfers had passed. And Aouar has reportedly met with the Lyon brass and announced to the staff that he will remain at the club this season.

I don’t doubt that Lyon told L’Equipe those players are not going to move this window. Aulas did say there was a deadline for making moves. I’d wager that Aouar met with the Lyon executives today (whether he actually “announced” to the staff he’s staying is another question).

And I don’t think any of that means much at all.

Lyon and Aulas are well-known bloviators when it comes to transfers. They’ve played the transfer rumor / banter game in the past, and I think they’re playing it again here. They told Arsenal that Alexandre Lacazette wasn’t for sale and sold him a few weeks later. If you’re trying to extract maximum value for Houssem Aouar, wouldn’t you say “nope, we’re not selling” in the hope that Arsenal come back to the table with a better offer?

I said last week that with Arsenal having submitted an official bid and looking ready to come back with a second, I felt confident they were going to get the deal done. Turns out, I may have been overconfident there. The clubs were further apart on valuation than it seemed, according to Fabrizio Romano. Lyon want €50M + add-ons. Arsenal’s original bid was €38M + add-ons, and they were prepared to come back with a higher bid, but not all the way to Lyon’s number per Romano.

According to Romano, Lyon “consider the talks off,” but again, that very well could be a negotiating tactic. I don’t think Lyon are categorically not selling Aouar, and I’d bet that Arsenal come back with one more offer. It’s not over until the proverbial fat lady sings, but this one is trending in the wrong direction. It may turn out that the clubs are too far apart on valuation to find a middle ground.

So where does that leave Arsenal? They still need reinforcements in the midfield. I don’t think they’re going to trigger Thomas Partey’s release clause, and I don’t think Atletico Madrid are going to back off their demand that it be met.

There were reports earlier in the week linking Arsenal to Chelsea midfielder Jorginho, which have been re-upped today in the wake of the Aouar news. With the transfer window closing on Monday, October 5th we’ve entered the homestretch — things are only going to get more hectic and crazy from here.