Arsenal could have been vindicated in a transfer deal that they were previously panned for – and sign a superstar for just a snip of his potential value.
Back in 2020, the Gunners were quoted well over £50 million for Lyon schemer Houssem Aouar, with his employers, Olympique Lyonnais, playing hardball for their talent. In the end, Arsenal only had the money to sign Thomas Partey at the time, missing out on a creative spark that would cost them in the 2020/21 season.
Mikel Arteta's side slumped to eighth, relying on Emile Smith Rowe, freshly introduced from the youth sides, and Martin Odegaard, on loan from Real Madrid.
Plenty has changed at the Emirates Stadium since, with Mikel Arteta now needing a midfielder on the left-hand side of his 4-3-3 – but attentions might turn back to Aouar, who Foot Mercato (opens in new tab) claim could cost as little as £12.6m.
The Frenchman's value has been dropping like a stone since his botched Premier League move and this summer represents the last realistic opportunity to shift him before he becomes a free agent. Juventus and Tottenham have both been previously interested, too.
But Aouar now seems tailor-made not as the primary creator of Arsenal's side but as a secondary playmaker who can keep ahold of possession in the final third, play penetrative passes and press diligently.
Doubts remain for Arsenal over the 23-year-old – though given the scale of their interest in 2020 and subsequent unwillingness to launch another bid for him, perhaps the midfielder and his entourage has demanded too much from talks in the past for Arteta and team to entertain bringing him in now. Arsenal dealt with lower-profile agents last summer.
Lyon have previous for letting big stars leave for a snip of their value, too. World Cup winner Nabil Fekir was heavily linked with Liverpool once upon a time and expected to join a huge Champions League side at one point. In the end, he moved to the more modest Real Betis for just under £18m, shocking European giants.
Aouar is valued at around £22m by Transfermarkt (opens in new tab).
More Arsenal stories
Arsenal have been linked with one Borussia Dortmund star whose contract is up in 2023 – and he doesn't look likely to renew.
The rumour mill is going into overdrive over who Arsenal will bring in to fill the centre-forward spot in the team next season. Tammy Abraham has been heavily linked since last summer with those whispers refusing to go away, Ivan Toney has entered the frame as an option, while "the new Thierry Henry" has been touted.
Gabriel Jesus is a big rumour doing the rounds right now, as is Darwin Nunez, who Manchester United are reportedly closer to signing. Another Brazilian wonderkid is also apparently in talks.
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Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo.
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