Aouar is Worth the Wait by AI
Deal over. Negotiations were canceled and Houssem Aouar is staying at Lyon. That announcement came as a bitter blow to many an Arsenal fan. Aouar was what you’d call a premium talent, a player gliding and floating on another plane. He was only 22, with plenty of time for him to get even better. Pep Guardiola has praised him. Thomas Tuchel has praised him. Zinedine Zidane has praised him. No one in Europe’s premier competition has had more assists than him in the past two seasons. With his tendency to press, to turn up in big games, to play in different positions, Aouar would have been perfect for Arteta’s Arsenal.
These same qualities, rarely found in any other, make Aouar worth waiting for. Many have opined that Arsenal need to turn their attention somewhere else and fill the creative midfield hole. If you can’t afford him, the crowd wisdom goes, then go for a cheaper option.
Arsenal could indeed go for a cheaper option. There’s someone like Dominik Szbozlai at RB Salzburg or Luca Pellegrini at Roma. Plug your midfield, Arteta. Cut your cloth according to your means. Leave the expensive French toys for the aristocrats of football.
Virgil Van Dijk was a similar story. Liverpool wanted a first-team defender and their first choice was seemingly inaccessible. Southampton rejected their advances and cried foul at Liverpool’s negotiation tactics. They swore not to sell to the Anfield bastards. Anyone but Klopp. Liverpool publicly apologized and resigned. They backed off the player. Many other options were floated. Cheaper alternatives. The receptionist’s phone at the recruitment office was ringing off the hook. Agents pushed their own players. But the Liverpool executives were determined. Nothing was going to stop their plan of assembling what Klopp needed. It was Van Dijk or nothing.
Well, six months later, they went in again and the rest is history. Arsenal might learn one or two things from this. In fact, we may already have. If we’d waited for six months, we needed not have spent an unholy amount of money on Alexandre Lacazette. We could have waited for Aubameyang. That money could have gone somewhere else. And so it seems like what we are doing in recent times. Reports say that Thomas Partey has been a long term Arsenal target. Since 2018, we’ve watched our Ghanaian boy while the midfield grew light. And now we have him, a finished product, sneaked out of Madrid on the final day of the season.
Aouar is worth six months or more. None of the other options come close to him in style and pedigree. We are talking about one of the best Champions League midfielders. France’s midfield future. If what it takes to get him is time, well, we should be ready to spend plenty of it.