Lyon will reportedly build their team around promising youngster Houssem Aouar as they prepare for life without Liverpool target Nabil Fekir.
They were expected to accelerate their pursuit after the Champions League final, but Lyon’s lofty price tag of around €70 million has proved a speed-bump.
However, it seems to be a matter of when, not if, for the 24-year-old, who scored 23 and assisted eight in 40 games wearing the captain’s armband last season.
They claim that 19-year-old midfielder Houssem Aouar is set to sign a new five-year contract, with Lyon urging him to step up as Fekir’s replacement.
Aouar, who was tentatively linked with a move to Anfield, is said to have been waiting to ensure Les Gones were playing Champions League football next season, which they did through a 3-2 win over OGC Nice on the final day.
The teenager played 44 times for Lyon last term, scoring seven and assisting six, typically operating behind Fekir in Bruno Genesio’s midfield but sometimes in his favoured No. 10 role.
Fekir is with the France squad preparing for the World Cup, and Liverpool are determined to get the deal over the line before the tournament begins next Thursday.
But L’Equipe claim negotiations are moving in “slow motion,” with an agreement still being “far from being achieved” as Lyon play hardball.
Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid are also touted as possible destinations for the playmaker, but given his widely reported preference for a move to Merseyside this should not be a concern.
If Lyon have in fact backed Aouar as Fekir’s replacement this would indicate that they are willing to sell eventually.
Unfortunately, Liverpool may be forced to wait until deep into the summer to secure their prime target, with Fekir’s performances in Russia potentially increasing his value.
The Reds are also interested in signing 22-year-old winger Moses Simon from Gent, with a proposed £10 million significantly easier to broker after he was left out of the Nigeria squad.