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Arsenal have been handed a major boost in their pursuit of Houssem Aouar, with the midfielder reportedly adamant he wants to leave Lyon this summer.
Aouar played a starring role as Lyon reached the Champions League semi-finals last season and the 22-year-old’s outstanding performances have made him a target for several top European clubs.
Manchester City, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain are all admirers of Aouar but are yet to open discussions over a possible deal.
However, Lyon sporting director Juninho confirmed last week that Arsenal had been in contact, with the Frenchman ‘really appreciated’ by Mikel Arteta.
The Gunners offered Matteo Guendouzi to Lyon in a potential player-plus-cash agreement for Aouar but the proposal was swiftly rejected.
‘I get on very well with Edu (Arsenal technical director), we spoke on the phone,’ Juninho told RMC Sport.
‘Aouar is really appreciated by Mikel Arteta. Guendouzi was discussed during the call. He is a great player, but he is the wrong profile and we are not interested in that at all. We cut the conversation.’
According to L’Equipe, Aouar has decided he’s keen for a fresh challenge and is determined to find a new club before the transfer deadline.
It’s claimed Lyon are resigned to the fact they may end up selling their prized possession this summer.
However, the Ligue 1 outfit realise they are in a strong position, with Aouar tied into a contract until 2023, and are demanding a fee of €60 million (£55m) from interested sides.
Rio Ferdinand picked Aouar out as a possible threat to Bayern Munich’s hopes and likened the midfielder to Samir Nasri after his sublime showing in Lyon’s quarter-final victory over Manchester City.
‘He provides the creativity in this team,’ the ex-Manchester United and England defender said on BT Sport.
‘A kid so young but he’s relied upon so much. That shows the belief they’ve got in him and the belief he has in himself.
‘You see his imagination and the pictures he creates and sees on the pitch, the vision and the tactical awareness. The confidence is what exudes out of this boy.
‘He’s a fabulous player to watch. He drives past people and then it’s about decision-making and the timing of the pass. He has it all. ‘He reminds me of Samir Nasri at times. He’s someone who can be a top player at one of the top clubs in Europe.’