Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar remains the number one target for Mikel Arteta, but October 5th is fast approaching and Arsenal needs to act fast. There are suggestions that the player has agreed to personal terms in a five-year deal but that’s highly unlikely at this stage.
Other sources say that no official bid for Aouar has been received by Lyon from Arsenal but that isn’t strictly true either. Arsenal have made enquiries about the player but they have yet to agree in valuation. The player himself hasn’t agreed to any terms because he contractually remains a Lyon player at this time.
Aouar is aware of Arsenal’s interest and is said to be excited by the prospect of joining the Premier League outfit. It’s been reported that some communication has taken place and Arsenal have outlined their intentions, with the player’s agent responding positively but the deal isn’t done.
Lyon are aware of some interested parties including Arsenal and the North London club has made two offers, but not enough to even get the club officials around the same table. If a deal is going to be done, it may go right down to the wire as Arsenal try to offload their surplus players to meet the valuation of around £45m.
Its doubtful Arsenal will want to pay that much for Aouar but they could present a package of around £35m plus with a series of add-ons which will take it much closer to £42m. It’s still short of the required fee but not by much, with both parties keen to progress with their transfer business and rid themselves of any other unwanted distractions. Moreover Lyon announcing the signing of Lucas Paqueta from Milan offers a much needed indication about proceeding finally winding to a close.
Thomas Partey is still a name that interests Arsenal but the transfer is becoming less likely with each passing day because both clubs are so far apart. Arsenal thought they could offer a player plus cash deal but it appears that Atletico want the top end figure to reinvest. It could still go ahead if one of the clubs comes up with an alternative agreement. Alternatively, Arsenal will have to bite the bullet and pay the money.
I’m told that there are currently no other targets unless someone “amazing” comes along at which point the Gunners might be able to do something unexpected. There is still some movement on players leaving and Arsenal are desperately trying to collect the cash to funnel elsewhere. Is this the new face of football for clubs without oil-rich owners and major success in recent years? It would appear so.
As I said in a recent blog, with finances dwindling since the pandemic, instalments, loans, frees and the practical move of financing transfers from sales is very much the way business will be conducted in the foreseeable future. Those with self-sustaining models including Arsenal are now having to re-examine their model in these uncertain times to find a way of operating but with the likes of Chelsea spending over £200m, the market isn’t going to find a level of common sense anytime soon.
In long term, sanity may prevail with clubs hoping that a certain level of success in the top competitions will offset the expense or that crowds will be allowed back into grounds, but that looks unlikely in the current climate. Elsewhere, Arsenal may not see the benefit of their investment in several academy players for another two or three seasons because only a few have successfully made the jump from being promising prospects to the first team.
There’s more to come with the likes of Azeez, Smith Rowe, and Nelson all on track to join Saka, Maitland-Niles, and Nketiah, but others may have to be sacrificed for their inability to perform consistently at the top level. Arteta and Edu have to be inventive with what little funds and resources they have. As if it wasn’t a big enough job already!