Mikel Arteta is aiming to build his Arsenal midfield around Houssem Aouar, according to the latest reports.
The 22-year-old star has established himself as one of the best young midfield talents in Europe following his performances for Lyon.
Aouar has drawn interest from Juventus, Real Madrid and Manchester City but according to a recent report by ESPN, Arsenal have made Aouar their No.1 target for the remainder of the transfer window.
The report claims that Arteta views Houssem as a key part of the midfield trio he plans to use in a 4-3-3 system with the Gunners.
Arsenal have already had a bid for Aouar snubbed by Lyon as the Gunners offered cash plus bad boy Matteo Guendouzi.
Lyon, however, are not keen on a deal that includes Guendouzi and are demanding a €60 million (£55.5 million) fee.
Speaking earlier this week, Lyon’s chief, Juninho, confirmed Arsenal’s first offer for Houssem had been turned down. ‘I get along very well with their sporting director [Edu],’ Juninho said.
‘We spoke on the phone. Houssem Aouar is really appreciated by Arteta. There have been some discussions for Matteo Guendouzi who is also a good player.
‘He was mentioned during the discussion, but this is not the profile we need, we were very clear. If it is like that, it does not interest us at all… it is, and we stopped.’
The club are currently unable to match Lyon’s valuation, although their move will now be boosted following Emiliano Martinez’s £20 million move to Aston Villa on Sunday.