Arsenal may never get a better chance to sign Houssem Aouar when the summer transfer window opens.
The Frenchman was heavily linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium before the 2020/21 season got underway, but the Gunners were eventually priced out of a deal.
Fast forward a few months and Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas’ stance appears to have softened as L’Equipe claim a new asking price has been set.
The report states that an offer between £22m-£25m could be enough to tempt the Ligue 1 outfit’s chief into selling the 22-year-old this summer.
That is over half of what Aulas was previously demanding, meaning Arsenal technical director Edu could seal a transfer masterstroke by saving around £30m based on the asking price last summer to boost Mikel Arteta‘s first-team squad.
A reason for the change of heart is because Lyon failed to qualify for next season’s Champions League, thanks in part to what Arsenal defender William Saliba did on the final day of the Ligue 1 campaign.
The Frenchman scored what turned out to be the winner for Nice at the Groupama Stadium last Sunday as Lyon missed out on a top-four spot by two points.
Interestingly, some Gunners fans have a theory that lowering Aouar’s price-tag was Arteta’s long-term plan all along after allowing Saliba to join Nice on loan during the January transfer window.
There’s been no indication that Arsenal are planning to reignite their interest in Aouar this summer as Martin Odegaard and Norwich City’s Emi Buendia are seen as the alternatives at the moment.
But transfer expert Fabrizio Romano revealed at the beginning of the year that the Gunners remain ‘convinced’ Aouar was still the right man to solve their creativity issues.
“[Houssem] Aouar has always been the first target for Arsenal,” Romano said on the Feather on Football podcast. “They love him and they are convinced he would be perfect in their midfield.
“The problem is that Lyon are asking for €60million (£53.3m) they are having an amazing season, they want to be back in the Champions League, so at the moment with the president of Lyon it’s really hard to negotiate in January for this kind of player.”
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Furthermore, the Gunners have been given hope of sealing a ‘perfect’ summer transfer as Aouar hinted that the Nice clash may have been his last in Lyon colours.
“This could be (my last match at Lyon), but it could also not be,” he said ahead of the game. “I do not ask myself these sorts of questions before an important match like this.
“I have not played as much as I would have liked. I struggled to come back after COVID. A pretty mixed season (for me). I have improved in terms of managing injuries.
“I am happy with my statistics in the few matches that I have done, so a mixed season. I feel good, I am at 100% for this match.”