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Laurens: Tottenham are now challenging Arsenal for Houssem Aouar

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Gazump! Gazump! OK!

Olympique Lyon v OGC Nice - Ligue 1 Photo by Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

All right, now HERE’S a transfer rumor I can 100% get behind. ESPN journalist and French football expert Julien Laurens is reporting that Tottenham Hotspur have entered the race to sign Lyon central midfielder Houssem Aouar.

You know who the other team is who wants Aouar? Arsenal. Yup, it’s pretty, pretty good.

Way back in 2019 when Tottenham spectacularly signed Tanguy Ndombele, Aouar was one of the young midfielders whom I and others at Carty Free were pretty high on as a backup option. Which is pretty interesting when you think about it considering Aouar was Ndombele’s teammate at Lyon, and is still there. He’s just a lot better now.

Aouar had seven goals and three assists in 1700 minutes at central midfield for Lyon last season, but it’s his other stats which make him pop. At just 23 years old, he’s well above average at getting the ball through the midfield, averaging over 8 progressive carries per match and nearly 3 successful dribbles/90. He’s particularly adept at carries into the final third, as well as touches in the box. He also has a shot on him — you don’t necessarily need your central midfielder to score goals, but isn’t it nice when he does?

To be sure, Tottenham don’t really NEED Aouar — the combination of Tanguy Ndombele, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, and Giovani Lo Celso is already a pretty good stable of central midfielders. But with his creativity and ability to progress the ball in midfield, Aouar would be tons of fun in a midfield three, and would be a super exciting option for Nuno Espirito Santo if he wants to rotate his midfields and keep them fresh.

To put it another way, what if we took Moussa Sissoko or Harry Winks... and replaced them with Houssem Aouar? And did it by gazumping Arsenal?

This is the part of the article where I say that there’s no guarantee that Aouar would come to Spurs. Lyon seem like they’re pretty cash strapped after COVID (along with the rest of Ligue 1, Non-PSG Edition) and the Arsenal links suggested he could be had for somewhere around £25-30m. This is after Arsenal made a £32m bid last summer only to have Lyon tell them to pound sand and demand £50m.

But that’s also what makes this rumor particularly funny. To be sure there are other areas of the squad that Tottenham need to focus on and just because Spurs are interested in him doesn’t mean he’ll come to the good part of North London. Tottenham are clearly looking at that part of the pitch — Spurs are also linked with Renato Sanchez (another good option).

But what if he did want to come? And what if we could get a really good player to fill out our midfield corps at our arch-rival’s expense? As far as I’m concerned, that’s TOTALLY worth the money, just for the banter. But also because he’s really good and he’d improve Tottenham. We should do this.