Mikel Arteta is planning to build his Arsenal midfield around Houssem Aouar, according to reports.
The 22-year-old has established himself as one of the best young midfield prospects in Europe following his performances for Lyon.
But according to ESPN, Arsenal have made Aouar their priority target for the remainder of the transfer window.
The report claims that Arteta views Aouar as a key part of the midfield trio he plans to use in a 4-3-3 system with Arsenal.
Arsenal have already had an bid for Aouar rejected by Lyon as the Gunners offered cash plus Matteo Guendouzi.
Lyon, however, are not interested in a deal that includes Guendouzi and are demanding a €60 million (£55.5m) fee.
Speaking earlier this week, Lyon’s sporting director, Juninho, confirmed Arsenal’s first offer for Aouar had been turned down.
‘I get along very well with their sporting director [Edu],’ Juninho said.
‘We spoke on the phone. Houssem Aouar is really appreciated by Arteta. There have been some discussions for Matteo Guendouzi who is also a good player.
‘He was mentioned during the discussion, but this is not the profile we need, we were very clear. If it is like that, it does not interest us at all… it is, and we stopped.’
Arsenal are currently unable to match Lyon’s valuation, although their transfer will now be boosted following Emiliano Martinez’s £20m move to Aston Villa on Sunday.
‘We are still active in the market, we are looking at different options,’ said the Arsenal manager.
‘I would say we are active in the market for players in and out, at the moment the squad balance is not the ideal we want to achieve so there is still some work to do.
‘Some positions are overbooked, I said some others, in terms of specific qualities that we need, they are still not there.
‘We have to bear in mind the complication with this transfer market and the complexity and the timing, because you can see that clubs are behaving in many different ways and it is a little bit uncertain how this will work in the next few weeks.’