Houssem Aouar says he’s ‘happy’ to be at Lyon and could remain with his boyhood club for at least another season after Arsenal failed with a move for his signature.
Mikel Arteta identified Lyon’s Aouar and Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey as his two priority targets in midfield at the start of the summer but Lille centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes was still the only player to join Arsenal with just hours remaining of the transfer window.
The Gunners had several bids rejected for Aouar – with Lyon holding out for a fee of €60million (£55m) – and the 22-year-old will stay with the Ligue 1 outfit for the 2020/21 campaign.
However, Arsenal did manage to land Partey after triggering a £45million release clause in his contract at Atletico Madrid on deadline day and the Ghanaian could make his debut when Arteta’s side travel to Manchester City next weekend.
Arsenal are expected to return for Aouar in the January transfer window or next summer but the France international and insists it still fills him with ‘great pride’ to represent Lyon, the team he’s been with since the age of 11.
‘I discussed a lot with [Lyon sporting director] Juninho,’ Aouar told French outlet Telefoot.
‘He shows me his confidence every day: it’s a real pleasure to work with him.
‘To stay here for another season, or more, with him, it’s a great pride.’
Aouar added: ‘I’m happy to stay in Lyon.
‘It’s my city, my club: it’s a great pride to represent OL.
‘It wasn’t necessarily Arsenal or nothing else, even though at the end it was basically that.
‘I had to make a decision, and I am happy to stay here.’
Former Arsenal striker Kevin Campbell is confident Aouar will be ‘next on the radar of Arteta and Edu’ after the club missed out on him this summer.
‘Who is next? Houssem Aouar, we missed you. We didn’t get you this time!’ he told The Highbury Squad following Arsenal’s deadline day move for Partey.
‘Whether we can get you in January, I’m not sure. But I’m sure you’re next on the radar for Mikel Arteta and Edu.
‘You hopefully will be a Gunner at some stage in the future.’