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Houssem Aouar has put his hopes of joining Arsenal on hold and will remain at Lyon, with the midfielder having explained his decision to the club’s hierarchy over the weekend, according to reports.
Gunners boss Mikel Arteta has been desperate to sign a new midfielder, targeting both Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey and Aouar, but with the transfer window closing on Monday he is running out of time.
Lyon were open to negotiating a fee for the 22-year-old midfielder – who was keen to move to north London – but Arsenal were unable to shift their deadwood in time to raise the £40million fee required.
According to RMC Sport, Aouar has now shelved his hopes of moving to the Emirates and has informed Lyon that he is committed to remaining at the club for the 2020/21 season.
The Frenchman outlined three key reasons for his decision: Firstly, the transfer had dragged on for so long that it would have left precious little time for Lyon to sign a replacement.
Aouar came through the academy and has a huge amount of respect for the club he joined over a decade ago and did not want to leave ‘through the back door’ or potentially put the team in trouble.
A second important factor was the European Championships next summer, with Aouar believing he has a better chance of retaining his spot in Didier Deschamps’ squad if he stays at Lyon.
There would be no guarantees that he would hit the ground running at Arsenal – particularly with the transfer happening so late – and any problems in adapting to the Premier League would severely hamper his hopes, whereas at Lyon the team is built around him.
Old teammate Tanguy Ndombele lost his place in the France squad after struggling when he first joined Spurs, while Aouar may have noticed compatriot William Saliba’s lack of opportunities.
The third and final reason that Aouar opted to remain at Lyon is that he wants to help them qualify for the Champions League this season, having missed out on European qualification last season.
Unfortunately for Arsenal, Aouar’s decision to remain at Lyon for one more campaign means they will face renewed competition for his signature next summer, with the likes of Juventus, PSG and Real Madrid all expected to have the funds to sign him.