Arsenal leading race to sign 22-year-old French midfielder

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has aimed a little dig at London club over their pursuit of Houssem Aouar, saying Arsenal cannot afford to add the playmaker. Arsenal boss has already been busy in the transfer market this summer but is keen to bring in a new midfielder, with both Atletico player Thomas Partey and Houssem on Gunners radar.

However, little progress has been made on a deal for either footballer with the Gunners needing to offload footballers and raise funds, before dipping back into the market.

Despite the interest in U21 France international, Lyon chief Aulas says the Les Gones have received no official bid for the midfielder and does not expect him to move to the London club this summer.

Asked if Gunners are likely to agree on a deal for Aouar, Aulas said: ‘No I don’t think so. No offer yet. It seems that Arsenal doesn’t want to, or can’t, invest the price for Houssem, who is our best player.’

Ligue 1 giants have set a price tag of £44m for the 22-year-old playmaker, though the London giants have already spent a sizeable amount, both in fees and wages, to sign Pablo Mari, Cedric Soares, Gabriel and Willian, as well as handing a bumper new contract to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference before facing West Ham United on Saturday, Mikel Arteta intimidated that the club would need to sell several footballers, and balance the squad, before pursuing more targets.

On the specific links with a new midfielder, he added bluntly: ‘Sorry, unfortunately, I cannot talk about players that are not at our club but I appreciate the question.’