Arsenal are not finished in the transfer window, it would seem. The Gunners are expected to submit a €40M+ bid for Lyon’s Houssem Aouar, according to Telefoot, a somewhat-reliable source out of France. Lyon’s sporting director Juninho confirmed last week that his club had rejected a Matteo Guendouzi + cash offer from Arsenal. He recently said that there are no open bids on the table. Aouar has also been linked with a move to Juventus, although David Ornstein put that kibosh on that rumor earlier today.
Most outlets agree that Aouar is worth / Lyon are looking for €45M for their young midfield star. The 22-year old scored 10 goals and added 9 assists in the 28-game Ligue 1 season. He would fill a massive hole in the Arsenal setup; the Gunners are in desperate need of a creative, attacking midfielder.
Arsenal seem to have shifted their transfer attention from Thomas Partey to Aouar. That’s at least in part because of Atletico Madrid’s steadfast assertion that the Gunners pay his full, €50M release clause up-front and in cash. The reports are that Lyon are open to a transfer fee paid in installments, which would be much easier for Arsenal to manage. They probably have the cash on-hand for the first €20-25M payment right now given the Emi Martinez sale. The prevailing wisdom this window was that, especially after the Gabriel Magalhaes purcahse, Arsenal will have to sell to buy. And they’ve sold, so now comes the buying, right?
I also happen to think Arsenal need an attacking midfielder more than a deeper lying one, so I’ve got no complaints about the change in tactics. Aouar is younger and has more potential than Partey, too.
You’ll recall that the Nicolas Pépé deal is being paid in installments. Spreading out transfer fees over a few years looks to be a theme in North London right now, which is understandable. Arsenal were consistently tamping down expectations about the size of transfer war chest before the financial strain of the shutdown. Not to go all “woe is me” on Arsenal’s behalf, but cash almost certainly is tighter at the club than it has been in the past.
My biggest concern is the effect of deferred payments on transfer spend down the road. Will the fees limit Arsenal’s ability to buy in future windows? The Gunners are, in essence, placing a bet on themselves — banking on the windfall from returning to the Champions League and revenues picking back up as fans return to the Emirates.
It’s a risk. The former may not happen, and the latter may take longer than expected. If things don’t pan out, they’ve just kicked the can down the road and created a potentially bigger problem that will come to a head in a few years.