It’s tough times for Lyon right now. At the start of the season, they had one of the most exciting and dynamic sides in Europe as they flew out of the traps both domestically and in Europe. However, a few patchy spells of form after an injury to Memphis Depay saw them slip to seventh in Ligue 1, just before the league was cut short by COVID-19.
This means there will be no European football at the Groupama Stadium for the first time in 20 years, and due to this they will have to sell some star players to balance the books. Fortunately, they have one of the most coveted youngsters in the world in their midfield – and he’s worth £45m.
Houssem Aouar is a seriously gifted midfield operator, one of the most creative players on the continent and he’s so smooth in possession that he makes nutmegs look like a regular part of dribbling. There shouldn’t really be a club not considering a bid.
But, just in case when the pubs reopen, you’re sitting with a friend watching Sky Sports News on mute on the plasma when Aouar flashes on screen, and your friend asks “who’s that?” – here’s the five clubs he’s most likely to move to and why, so you can prove you spent your lockdown productively.
Remember a time when Arsenal would go into the Ligue 1 marketplace and come back with the spine of a title winning side? 90min remembers.
Those days are long gone however, and Arsenal are just not the attractive proposition they once were. Currently sitting ninth in the Premier League, they aren’t likely to be a move for Aouar in the short term, although a signing like him would be a real statement that Mikel Arteta isn’t just using Arsenal as an audition for the Man City job when Pep decides to leave.
While to many this deal may make sense, and Aouar is the exact type of player Arsenal could do with, the £45m price tag will potentially throw them off, and Aouar would have far better options even if they did find the money deep in the rainy day fund.
Likelihood Rating: 1/10
Suitability Rating: 6/10
Do Juventus need any more midfielders? No. Will Juventus sign anymore midfielders? Absolutely. They just can’t help themselves. Of course, there is questions over Miralem Pjanic and Sami Khedira’s futures in Turin, and Aouar would improve any midfield he stepped into, but he’d likely not be guaranteed the game time he deserves.
Back in March, 90min reported on how Juve were one of three clubs showing initial interest, but since then things have cooled a bit. The Old Lady have been more focussed on securing Sandro Tonali, another of Europes finest young prospects. Don’t write them off though, they could see Aouar as a long term investment.
Ironically, Juventus are one of the reasons Aouar could stay in Lyon, as they are currently 1-0 down to them in the Champions League. If Lyon win the tournament they could hold onto their stars…but, you know, that’s definitely not going to happen…
Liklihood Rating: 4/10
Suitability Rating: 4/10
It’s been quite a month for Chelsea. They’ve shown real ambition by coming out of nowhere and signing Timo Werner (reportedly) from under the nose of everyone in Europe, and now look the most likely club to put a bid in for Kai Havertz. While they’re throwing money around, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if they stumped up some cash for Aouar too.
The problem is, they probably don’t need Aouar, especially if they do sign Havertz. In the Frenchman’s position, they already have Mateo Kovacic, Ross Barkley (don’t laugh) and Mason Mount, and while Aouar would likely be a step up from the three of them, there are other areas of the park they’d be better off strengthening first.
Aouar does have the ability to play a little deeper though, so if N’Golo Kante does leave in the summer, expect this transfer to be well and truly in the pipeline.
Liklihood Rating: 6/10
Suitability Rating: 5/10
Always the favourites to sign the best French talent, PSG are one club who won’t be tightening their purse strings too much after the Coronavirus pandemic. They were crowned French champions again, finally made it past the last 16 in the Champions League, and are crying out for a player of Aouar’s talents in the middle of the park. Sounds like a done deal, right?
Well, not quite.
When have PSG ever done anything the way they were supposed to? On paper, Aouar would be the ideal signing for them and they’ve not had concrete links with anyone else in his position. For the player, it’d be a step up in Ligue 1, playing for the best team in his home country, and still within his comfort zone. But that may be where the problem lies.
If Aouar is serious about his development, he will probably need to take a chance at this stage of his career and go abroad to test himself.
Liklihood Rating: 8/10
Suitability Rating: 9/10
This may depend on Man City’s appeal over their Champions League ban, but if it happened, it would be the ideal move. Houssem Aouar in a Pep Guardiola midfield? Just give him the assist trophy now.
With David Silva leaving, City have a huge creative hole in their midfield to fill after Silva has held the position for ten years. At 21 years of age, Aouar would fit City’s long term policy for big transfers, as well as suit the clubs style of play down to the ground.
City are current favourites to sign him, he’s believed to be interested, they need a player like him. It’s a match made in heaven. If City do secure his signature and he gets to spend the next few years developing alongside Kevin De Bruyne, we could be looking at another world class player at the Etihad for another ten years.
Liklihood Rating: 9/10
Suitability Rating: 9/10