Arsenal reportedly face competition from Premier League rivals Newcastle United as they look to complete the signing of Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar.
The 24-year-old was once rated as one of European football’s brightest prospects after breaking into the senior setup at Lyon during the second half of the 2016/17 season. After making his debut in the first leg of a Europa League round of 32 tie against AZ Alkmaar, Aouar went on to make a further four appearances during the remainder of the campaign and scored his first goal for the club in the second leg against the Dutch club.
Such was the excitement surrounding the young talent, he was handed the iconic number eight shirt once worn by club legend Juninho Pernambucano at the start of his first full season. Auoar became a consistent presence in the Lyon setup over the seasons that followed and earned wholesome praise from Pep Guardiola after a Champions League tie against Manchester City in November 2018.
Speaking after a 2-2 draw in France, the City manager said: “Houssem Aouar is a very good player. He is incredible. We talk a lot about (Tanguy) Ndombele, but Aouar is also excellent. He’s always very calm with the ball at his feet, with an excellent technical quality. Lyon really has a very good team. There are young people full of quality and I think the team is in place tactically.”
The likes of Chelsea, and Real Madrid have been linked with a move for Aouar in the recent past but it was Real Betis that came closest to completing a move for the once-capped France international, with the financial implications of securing his signature preventing the deal going through at the last minute.
Significantly, Aouar will head into the final six months of his current contract at Lyon when the January transfer window opens and Spanish outlet Fichajes has claimed Arsenal, Newcastle, Roma, Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Betis could all try to tempt the Ligue 1 club into a cut-price deal.
Should a move fail to be secured, Aouar could negotiate a pre-contract agreement with a club outside of France before joining them on a free transfer when his deal expires in July.