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Transfer Rumor: Would young Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar be a sensible target?

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How will Mikel Arteta retool the Gunners midfield next season?

Olympique Lyon v Juventus - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg Photo by Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

After a few impressive performances for Lyon in the Champions League this season, 21-year-old Houssem Aouar looks set to challenge for the French senior camp and a move to a bigger club. With a disjointed roster, a new manager, and the need to recapture their place in the Premier League, Arsenal, as one would expect, have been linked with the young midfielder.

The Report

The Sun [yeah I know not a great source, but they noted it first, so credit and all] state that a trio of Premier League sides including Arsenal are among many looking at the young Ligue 1 playmaker. The Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola had commented on Aouar saying, “He is excellent. He is always very calm with the ball at his feet, with an excellent technical quality.” As clubs deal with the financial blow of the stoppage of play, Lyon may be forced to sell him this summer.

The Player

Club History: After starting out in the AC De Villeurbanne academy system he moved into the Olympique Lyon academy in 2009.

Experience: Auoar jumped from the Lyon U19s to the senior side in 2016. Since then he has made nearly 100 appearances in Ligue 1 tallying 16 goals and 16 assists. While scoring once and producing six assists from 12 Champions League matches across the last two seasons.

International Level: 14 appearances for the French U21 side, where he has on occasion played alongside Matteo Guendouzi.

Position(s): Primarily a central midfielder, but Houssem lined up on the left side of midfield seven times before the current season halting. Can also play further forward as the attacking midfielder.

Contract Situation: Expires June 2023.

Projected Value: $54.5 million.

The Arsenal Situation

In recent weeks I’ve talked multiple times about how Mikel Arteta has serious questions and work ahead of him regarding the Arsenal midfield. Whether he moves to a 4-3-3 next season or not, he will not be content with the current midfielder depth chart. Lucas Torreira has yet to settle into a starting role or partnership since his arrival. Joe Willock, Guendouzi and Ainsley Maitland-Niles are all 21 and younger, but have they proven enough to the new manager to warrant not securing Ceballos on a permanent move or bringing in one or two new faces in line with how Arteta sees his midfield?

The fact that Arsenal don’t have much depth at the attacking midfield role behind Mesut Ozil, would play into favor targeting someone like Aouar. Someone who can adapt to playing on the attacking side or shift around a midfield formation.

The Outlook

As with our look at Achraf Hakimi a few days ago, Arsenal would be facing a steep hill to win over Aouar. Potentially $50-60 million for another midfielder, while battling Champions League clubs like Juventus, Manchester City and Liverpool, make this a very unlikely move. However, if the Premier League resumed, and if, Arsenal someone climbed back into the Champions League sports, and if, they sold a marquee name to secure the funds, then this might be plausible.

But yes, that’s a mighty stretch. One that Arsenal can’t count on and thus can’t spend much of their focus on. For now Edu and Arteta will need to settle with rebuilding Arsenal with players and transfer targets one tier below.