Reports broke on Friday from the reliable French source, L’Équipe, that Arsenal have made an approach for highly-rated Lyon midfielder – Houssem Aouar – in an attempt to bolster Mikel Arteta’s creative options in the middle of the park. Arsenal’s technical director, Edu, is thought to be the driving force behind the deal which would see Matteo Guendouzi go in the opposite direction, mainly due to the 21-year old falling out of favour at the Emirates, and therefore could be seen as an enticing makeweight to ensure an agreement could be struck without taking up too much of our summer transfer budget.
The fee Arsenal are currently offering is unknown, however optimism surrounding the rumours are definitely starting to grow, as reports claim Mikel Arteta has been an admirer of the 22-year old for some time and wanted him at Manchester City.
Name: Houssem Aouar
Position: CM, CAM, LM
Preferred foot: Right
Current Club: Olympique Lyon
Market Value: £44.5m
Career Stats –
Olympique Lyon: 135 games – 24 goals and 25 assists
France U21: 14 games – 4 goals
Can he solve our creative problems?
One of Arteta’s main dilemmas since his arrival has been finding the correct balance in midfield, as we have majorly lacked someone who can float between the lines and split the opposition defence open with a killer pass, however the Spaniard has found some joy with the combination of Dani Ceballos and Granit Xhaka at the heart of his 3-4-3 formation. As excellent as these two have been since the restart, it could be argued that our newly found system has compensated for their limitations, albeit there aren’t loads but one of them is certainly creativity.
Ahead of the new campaign, it appears Arteta will try to implement his favoured 4-3-3 formation, providing the club are able to recruit the correct personnel with Aouar looking like his first choice to make this transition in midfield.
Another positive that cannot be ignored is the Euros factor. Aouar will be desperate to force his way in the France squad and the current World Champions appear to have a very strong going into next year’s Euro 2021. They are the general second favourites behind Belgium in the Euro betting and this would appear a solid bet, with the strength in depth of the squad and coming off the back of their World Cup victory. They are going to prove a popular bet for punters, who can also pick up betting tips for the event and get involved in the outright markets. France and Arsenal might benefit from the additional creativity he offers
Arsenal’s current midfielders vs Aouar
There is no doubt that Ceballos influence at Arsenal is growing and I believe most fans will want him to stay at the Emirates next season, but one aspect of his game needs improving and that is in the chances created/assist department. After 24 appearances in the Premier League this season, Dani only managed to notch 2 assists along with 1 big chance created. Considering these two assists came in the same match against Burnley at home, it definitely leaves him with room for improvement in this part of his game.
Even though Ozil’s time at the club could be drawing to a close, as the German evidently isn’t in Arteta’s plans after not playing any minutes since the restart, he was still in the top 3 for chances created out of the Arsenal players. The 31-year is clearly past the peak of his powers which is why this statistic is so worrying, coupled with the fact he has barely played it really doesn’t reflect well on the rest of the team. It highlights the severity of the situation we are in, hence why I believe Arteta will address it this summer if we wish to push for top 4 next season. Mesut finished the 19/20 season with 2 assists in 18 games and 1 big chance created which demonstrates his drastic decline in recent seasons.
In order to make the transition to a three-man midfield it will require players with a certain profile to fit the bill, as all of them will have to contribute defensively and in an attacking sense. If we were to capture Aouar’s signature it would be a huge step towards achieving this, especially if we give him the licence to get forward and influence the game further up the pitch.
As you can see below, one of his strongest attributes is his ball progression, mainly through dribbling as his low centre of gravity and close control allow him to glide past opponents. Without a doubt, this aspect of his game helps with his ability to create chances due to him being able to get himself into better positions to find a teammate after he has broken the lines, giving himself more time to pick out the right pass. This is highlighted by his link-up play volume, an area of his game which he clearly excels in, as it shows he likes to find pockets of space and keep the ball ticking before looking for that killer pass.
For someone so young, he possesses so much versatility on the pitch hence why he has been utilized in many different positions for Lyon and under Arteta’s guidance, I believe he could be moulded into an elite level playmaker.
Does he provide a goal threat from Midfield?
Over the years, goals have never been hard to come by for Arsenal’s midfielders, with the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Cesc Fabregas and Santi Cazorla all chipping in regularly during their time at the club, however in our current squad, we are missing a midfielder who has an eye for goal to help ease the burden of scoring from our attacking talent. In the Premier League this season, none of our midfielders have scored more than once and between them have a combined 5 goals, something that Aouar would instantly improve on. The 22-year old has an impressive 9 goals in 39 appearances this season, despite having quite a restricted role for Lyon which sees him sit slightly deeper in order to control the tempo. In an attacking midfield role, which is where he would most likely play for us, it is completely feasible for him to be in and around 12-15 goals a season. That kind of productivity would go a long way to solving this problem and take the pressure off our front three to win us every game.
Overall, signing a player of Aouar’s calibre would show real signs of intent for the future and prove to other targets that the club is going in the right direction. It appears as though it would be a difficult deal to get across the line if they are unwilling to accept an offer including Guendouzi, despite this we should be doing everything in our power to convince him that Arteta’s project is the right choice in his development.
I believe his elegant, skilful and versatile style would be the perfect fit for our number 8 position, as it will allow him to have more freedom to get forward and get amongst the goals and assists than he , a vital facet which we have been missing this season. The Frenchman’s ability to break the lines, coupled with his impecable close control and range of passing make it an extremely interesting prospect for Arteta to manage, and perhaps we would be able to entice him by promising him a guaranteed starting spot along with the opportunity to become an important feature of our rebuild.
I’m a 20 year-old Arsenal fanatic and aspiring Sports Journalist, who will be studying how to write about the Beautiful Game at Solent University from September in an attempt to make my dream into a reality.
Since the age of 8 I have played academy football, but unfortunately it didn’t quite work out – therefore I decided to pursue the next best career for me.
I am aiming to write honest and interesting articles about the club I love, and to share my opinion (one from the younger generation of Arsenal supporters) with as many other fans as possible!