Who is Houssem Aouar? Lyon's all-action midfielder touted as Manchester United's Pogba replacement

 Manchester United have been linked with Lyon star Houssem Aouar this summer, so MEN Sport take a look at who he is and what he could bring to Old Trafford

Manchester United are in hot pursuit of a central midfielder this summer to bolster their defensive solidity, but they're also on the lookout for any potential replacements for star man Paul Pogba.

The 28-year-old French man is entering the final 12 months of his contract with the club and has attracted interest from Real Madrid, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain around a potential move this summer. United are keen to keep hold of him and are hopeful of convincing him to re-sign, but they know they may lose him in 12 months for nothing if that can't be done.

That has seen them look into the transfer market for potential replacements and that has seen them become interested in Lyon's midfield star Houssem Aouar.

But who is Aouar and why are Manchester United looking at him as a potential Pogba replacement? MEN Sport have done the digging so you don't have to...

Who is Houssem Aouar?

Aouar is a 23-year-old midfielder who has been with Olympique Lyonnais since joining their academy aged 11. Born in Lyon with Algerian descent, the midfielder is a France international having made his debut for Les Bleus in October 2020 after having previously represented them at Under-17 and Under-21 level.

He has spoken in the past of his playing idols being Lyon legend Juninho as well as French playmaker Zinedine Zidane.

He was heavily linked with a move to Arsenal and Juventus last summer, but he opted not to leave Lyon as they hoped to make it back into the Champions League and earn more money during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Playing style

Aouar is a creative midfielder, best known for his tidy technical attributes and attacking flair.

Often played as a central midfielder in a three, Aouar is usually the most offensive-minded of the players deployed in the team and carries the attacking burden of the team on his shoulders.

Happy to collect the ball from deep, Aouar is a talented passer and dribbler. He registered three assists last season with an 86% passing accuracy throughout the Ligue 1 campaign, while his eight goals show him to be a reliable finisher in front of goal too.

He uses his body well to shield the ball from opponents and is positionally competent, although his defensive attributes are far from his strongest.

What has been said about Aouar?

Aouar has received plenty of praise during his young career so far, notably from Pep Guardiola after a game between Lyon and Manchester City in 2018.

Following the game, Guardiola 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.

Another game against Manchester City in 2020, which Lyon won 3-1, saw superstar playmaker Kevin De Bruyne praise the midfielder too.

"I don't watch a lot of French football, but if I had to pick it one name, for me it would be Houssem Aouar. Today, he had a good game."

Lionel Messi is another who was impressed by Aouar, naming him as one of the 15 top young players to watch in 2020. He said; "He is always calm with the ball at his feet with an excellent technical quality."

Houssem Aouar impressed Guardiola and Kevin De Bruyne when he played against Manchester City

How much is Aouar likely to cost?

After being priced out of a move last summer because Lyon valued him at around €60m (£51m), he is available for less than half of that now after they failed to make the Champions League for the coming season.

With the French giants hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic financially, as well as the TV deal collapsing that has cost the entire league money, Lyon need funds and Aouar is their biggest asset after losing Memphis Depay on a free transfer to Barcelona.

With two years left on his contract, his value will only go down from here and United could well see him as a cheap alternative to bolster their midfield options.