There is no bigger stage for a player to showcase his talents than the latter stages of the Champions League and nobody raised their profile more in this month’s action than Olympique Lyonnais midfielder Houssem Aouar.
The French club have become renowned as a talent factory who produce exceptional players on a regular basis, and a sizeable homegrown core made Lyon the biggest overperformers in this season’s competition.
Despite a disappointing seventh-place finish in Ligue 1, Rudi Garcia guided his side to the semi-finals of the Champions League with thoroughly deserved triumphs over Juventus and Manchester City.
That was despite a trio of star players being sold off last year, as Ferland Mendy, Nabil Fekir and Tanguy Ndombele all moved on to pastures new.
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As ever, the club looked to their ready-made youth players to step up to the plate and it was Aouar whose star shone brighter than any other.
The 22-year-old has completed three full campaigns at the club but his influence now is greater than ever, particularly following the exit of Ndombele a year ago.
Aouar had been linked to Manchester City since last year and subsequent reports suggest their interest was driven by Mikel Arteta.
Arteta was number two to Pep Guardiola at City but is now in the hot seat at Arsenal and is said to hold a significant say in the club’s transfer business this summer following an internal restructuring of the club.
It is clear in Arteta’s work to date that he has a very clear idea of what he wants, whether that be in terms of a tactical approach or the players he wants to sign – or indeed, as shown in the case of Matteo Guendouzi, move out. He is understood to be keen on eventually moving away from the three-man backline he utilised in the latter stages of the 2019/20 season and moving towards a…