Arsenal have already held talks with Lyon sporting director Juninho over the signing of Houssem Aouar, with further negotiations in the pipeline.

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Lyon’s French midfielder Houssem Aouar celebrates after scoring on February 21, 2020. (Photo by JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN/AFP via Getty Images)

ESPN report that Arsenal already held an opening round of talks with Lyon over Houssem Aouar this summer. Edu called up their sporting director Juninho to enquire about the player, mentioning Matteo Guendouzi as part of a potential player-plus-cash swap deal.

At this stage, Lyon still haven’t given their asking price, but the two clubs are planning further talks for the player valued at around €50m. The Ligue 1 club have told Aouar he can leave this summer.

Manchester City and Juventus are also in the race, so there’s stiff competition for the 22-year-old.

The report fits with the latest update from France, that Lyon expect to sell Aouar this summer but Arsenal are the only club to make a bid so far. For the time being, it appears Lyon dismissed that bid, likely because they just want cash instead of a swap.

The midfielder had a strong season, scoring nine goals and assisting 10 in 2019/20. He provided a couple of assists in the last-16 against Juventus, then two more in the quarter-final against Manchester City. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that those are the two clubs now in for him.

Lyon's French midfielder Houssem Aouar celebrates after scoring the opener during the French Cup quarter-final football match between Olympique Lyonnais and Olympique de Marseille at the Groupama stadium in Decines-Charpieu near Lyon, central eastern France on February 12, 2020. (Photo by ROMAIN LAFABREGUE / AFP)
Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar celebrates after scoring on February 12, 2020. (Photo by ROMAIN LAFABREGUE / AFP)

The one advantage Arsenal have is that they can guarantee Aouar games. With Mesut Özil’s ongoing situation and Dani Ceballos returning to Real Madrid after his loan, at least for now, there’s a gap in the midfield for anyone with a bit of creativity.

Given the French u21 international is still so young, he may value that more highly than joining a potential Champions League winner immediately. Particularly as he’ll want to make an impression this season ahead of the Euros next summer.

But Arsenal still have a long way to go to find an agreement with Lyon.