Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has played down rumours Houssem Aouar could be on his way to Arsenal and insists the club are still counting on the midfielder for the new campaign.
Aouar, 22, is regarded as one of the top young midfielders in world football after starring on Lyon’s path to the Champions League semi-finals last season and his outstanding performances in the competition made Europe’s elite sit up and take notice.
Mikel Arteta is keen to strengthen his options in the middle of the park and Lyon chief Juninho confirmed that Arsenal technical director Edu had made contact over a possible agreement for Aouar earlier this month.
Arsenal have been unable to agree a fee with Lyon with the transfer deadline fast approaching – but reports on Friday suggested the north London giants were making significant progress in their pursuit of the Frenchman.
According to French outlet L’Equipe, Aouar has agreed personal terms with the Gunners after European heavyweights Barcelona and Juventus dropped out of this summer’s race for his signature.
However, Lyon president Aulas sent a clear message to Arsenal on Saturday morning as he directly responded to L’Equipe‘s story on Twitter.
‘For Houssem, Arsenal is too far from his value: we are counting on him to playing a great match in Lorient (this weekend) before leading Lyon in the Champions League next year,’ he said.
It’s understood Lyon have lowered their valuation of Aouar from £55m to between £36-41m but it appears Arsenal are still some way short of the Ligue 1 club’s new asking price.
Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey remains firmly on Arsenal’s radar and Chelsea midfielder Jorginho emerged as a possible target this week.
Asked about Jorginho’s links with Arsenal on Friday, Arteta responded: ‘We are still open to improve our team.
‘We are looking for different options depending on what happens with our players here.
‘We are getting prepared just in case we need to do something.’
‘It’s not appropriate.’