Houssem Aouar's four Premier League suitors, bargain price tag and Liverpool stumbling block
Houssem Aouar is the subject of a fierce four-way transfer battle from the Premier League after Lyon slashed his price tag by over 50 per cent on last year's valuation
Another transfer window, another report linking Houssem Aouar with a Premier League move.
The Lyon playmaker is no stranger to the transfer rumour mill, but this summer his trip across the channel looks like it may actually materialise.
Aouar, 23, is the subject of a fierce four-way battle after the French club slashed his price tag by over 50 per cent on last year's valuation.
Arsenal led the race for his services last summer and tabled a bid in the region of €40million (£34m). But they saw their offer rebuffed defiantly with Lyon sporting director Juninho declaring he would not part ways with Aouar for anything less than €60million (£51m).
Remarkably, however, a bid of just €25million (£21m) may be enough to prise Aouar from the Ligue 1 club this year , prompting a flurry of interest from Premier League heavyweights.
The Gunners remain at the front of the pack pursuing the France international, as reported by ESPN , while north London rivals Tottenham are also a leading contender.
Liverpool and Manchester United are the latest clubs to enter the race for Aouar as they seek to solve problems in their own midfields.
It is no surprise Aouar has a host of Premier League suitors, as he may turn out to be the bargain of the summer should he be snapped up.
He has an impressive tally of 63 goals or assists in 170 senior games for Lyon since emerging from the club's academy ranks.
Meanwhile, Aouar is not available for a cut-price because he is imminently out of contract, as he has two years remaining on his deal.
This raises questions of why Lyon are willing to let their No.8 leave - and the answer lies in financial difficulties and a potential breakdown of relations with the player himself.
Aouar was a notable absentee from Lyon's pre-season training, prompting widespread speculation that he is trying to force through an exit.
He recently took to social media to address this, writing: "Once again, unfortunately, yet another fake news has been released about me on numerous social media.
"Sick, I was hospitalised during the weekend. Know that I am doing much better and that I am ready for the future. Thank you to those who have always supported me, in good times and in bad times. Go OL."
Aouar has subsequently returned to Lyon's training ground, but all is not well at the club, who are still reeling from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
To make matters worse, Ligue 1's flagship television deal with Mediapro collapsed last season, leaving Lyon with no alternative but to transfer list star players with a view to balancing the books.
Lyon's loss looks set to be one Premier League side's gain, with each of Aouar's four admirers having their own reason for wanting to sign him.
Long-term suitors Arsenal are desparate to add a creative midfielder to their ranks having missed out on Emiliano Buendia to Aston Villa and following Martin Odegaard's return to Real Madrid.
Spurs, meanwhile, would like a marquee signing to bolster Nuno Espirito Santo's options and have an excellent relationship with Lyon after signing Tanguy Ndombele for £54million in 2019.
Liverpool and United may face more difficulty should they choose to formalise their interest in Aouar.
In contrast to Spurs, the Reds are on bad terms with Lyon after their bid to sign Nabil Fekir in 2018 collapsed at the eleventh hour.
United do not suffer from poor relations with the French club but their pursuit rests on the future of Paul Pogba, who may yet depart this summer with less than 12 months remaining on his contract.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has sounded out Aouar as a potential replacement for his compatriot, so he will be hoping Arsenal do not wrap up a deal with Lyon before Pogba's future is resolved.