Houssem Aouar is being dubbed by much of the Arsenal fan base as the next Julian Draxler. A player who has reappeared more than a Granit Xhaka red card every summer since the first ties with the club in 2020.
Unsurprisingly, rumors returned again in 2022 – but this time Arsenal could get the Frenchman for significantly less than two years ago. Gone are the £40m-plus price tags and Aouar could be free for as little as €15m (£12.6m), according to French news outlet Foot Mercato.
Despite Arsenal ties in the summers of 2020 and 2021, Mikel Arteta has ultimately decided against the Frenchman. Arteta made substitutions for Thomas Partey in his first summer window and Albert Sambi Lokonga in the second.
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Now Arsenal are looking for another central midfielder for the third summer in a row and reports say the Spaniard will snub Aouar again. The primary goal of the window is much closer to home.
Youri Tielemans is the club’s reported main target in midfield, with a deal for as little as £25million possible, according to The Telegraph. The Belgian has just one year left on his contract but Premier League experience and quality have led to Arteta’s preference.
Arteta wasn’t a fan of players falling out of the group. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was sacked for infractions by the captain and ended up moving on.
Aouar was found twice in two different summers to reportedly skip training. GFFN reported in July 2021 that Aouar had missed pre-season training to secure a move from the club, despite Lyon’s claims through illness.
L’Equipe du Soir on GFFN reported a year earlier that Aouar was sanctioned by then-sporting director Juninho for not doing the required fitness work during the warm-up.
It was also reported by L’Equipe earlier this season that Aouar was refereed by fans for his performance in the win against Bordeaux earlier this season. These incidents will not have gone unnoticed by Arteta and his collaborators.
Judging by how Arteta has dealt with the likes of Aubameyang, Matteo Guendouzi and Mesut Ozil, a move for Aouar seems very unlikely. Even the astonishingly low fee isn’t enough to tempt Arsenal, although the significant drop in price is likely to have a lot more to do with remaining contract time.
Instead, it’s almost certain to be influenced by the three examples above, with more to be found with further digging. Arteta builds a harmonious group that works on the principles of the arsenal he wants to build.
Players like Takehiro Tomiyasu embodied this. Arteta’s mentality is also appreciated by Nuno Tavares, who was substituted on twice before the second half.
“His mentality is that of a champion,” Tavares said in a recent interview with Counter Attack HQ. It’s that respect and appreciation that Arteta must want from his players.
Aouar just doesn’t seem to fall into the category of player Arteta wants otherwise the club would certainly have moved away from him by now, quite certain this summer given his reported low price. Instead, they strive for better, and they’re right about that.