Arsenal have entered the race to sign Lyon star Houssem Aouar this summer, offering outcast Matteo Guendouzi as part of the deal. Meanwhile, the player himself has admitted it is 'flattering' to be linked him with a move to Premier League giants Manchester City.
The Frenchman has played a key role in the French side's surprise passage to the Champions League semi-finals, inspiring Rudi Garcia's men to a stunning success over Italian giants Juventus on away goals in the last round – before impressing once again as they flattened City on Saturday night.
Those excellent performances, combined with his consistent displays in Ligue 1, have captured the interest of Mikel Arteta and Arsenal. According to L'Equipe, the Gunners remain the only club to have launched a serious bid for the 22-year-old, offering a hefty sum of money - believed to be £44m - and Guendouzi in return for his services.
Guendouzi has fallen out of favour under his new coach due to problems regarding his attitude, and Arteta has bombed him out of the squad with no sign of a return. Subsequently, the 21-year-old has not featured for the Gunners since a 2-1 defeat to Brighton in the middle of June, and his future seems to lie away from the Emirates stadium.
This move would certainly be seen as an impressive coup, should the north Londoners get a deal over the line. Aouar made 25 league appearances in the shortened French season, scoring three goals and laying on three assists for his teammates.
Lyon sporting director Juninho is also willing to entertain the idea of Aouar leaving the Ligue 1 side in the summer, accepting 'there is a risk of losing important players,' per the Daily Mail.
"Houssem Aouar? When you have great players in the squad, it is quite logical that other bigger teams with greater economic power come to seek the players.
"There is a risk of losing important players. If we lose important players, I have already spoken with the president, we will have the right to balance the workforce."
Meanwhile, another club linked with a big-money transfer for Aouar is Man City. Pep Guardiola's side will be determined to regain their Premier League crown next season, and the French star would certainly add some quality to their midfield alternatives.
Saturday night was seen as something of an audition, and one which he passed with flying colours. It was him who provided much of the drive and creative spark in Lyon's midfield, grabbing one assist when he set up Moussa Dembele for the controversial goal to give the Ligue 1 side the lead.
This theory was put to the midfielder before the match, but coach Garcia was quickest to respond, joking, "He can only leave if we win the Champions League, I can answer that!”
But Aouar did go on to address the question, admitting that it's 'flattering to have your name linked with clubs like that,' as cited by the Manchester Evening News.
“I don’t know if it’s a job interview tomorrow night but it’s always flattering to have your name linked with clubs like that. If I’m honest it’s not relevant ahead of a big game. I’m 100 per cent focussed on Lyon because these are really important games and I’m excited to be a part of them.”