Chelsea Reportedly Tracking Houssem Aouar Amid Arsenal Rumours

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistNovember 22, 2018

Lyon's Houssem Aouar celebrates after he scored a goal against Marseille during their French League One soccer match in Decines, near Lyon, central France, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
Laurent Cipriani/Associated Press

Houssem Aouar is reportedly being watched by Chelsea amid interest from Premier League rivals Arsenal.

Aouar has been earning rave reviews with Lyon and has even emerged as a target for La Liga giants Barcelona, per Simon Jones of MailOnline.

Jones noted the Gunners have scouted Aouar as a possible replacement for Aaron Ramsey, who has been told he can leave the north London club when his contract expires next summer.

Aouar has been Lyon's inspiration in the final third so far this season.
Aouar has been Lyon's inspiration in the final third so far this season.ALEX MARTIN/Getty Images

Chelsea's need may be greater if creative talisman Eden Hazard joins Real Madrid, although Jones reported "there are no guarantees he will leave." However, the Blues do want to add to their options in the advanced areas of midfield, where Willian and Pedro have both passed 30 years of age.

If Chelsea are looking to get younger, the club could do worse than turn to Aouar. Still just 20, he has drawn comparisons to Barca No. 10 Philippe Coutinho, according to Jones.

Yet Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri sees the precocious talent as the perfect No. 8 for his midfield, per RMC Sport (h/t Metro), and Aouar's goals and creativity for Lyon recently suggest the manager could be on to something:

UEFA Champions League @ChampionsLeague

🌠 Houssem Aouar has been involved in 9 goals in his last 11 @OL games 😎 Who is the biggest rising star in Ligue 1? #UCL https://t.co/1FYvtqEfQe

While the numbers are impressive, some have questioned whether Chelsea need a midfielder with Aouar's skills:

Alex Goldberg @AlexGoldberg_

Chelsea’s apparent interest in Houssem Aouar is interesting. Really bright, young footballer. But with Mount in the mix next year or the year after, I don’t see the need. Is this a hint into Kovačić’s future?

Mason Mount is thriving on loan with Championship side Derby County, and the 19-year-old isn't even the only precocious midfield talent on the Blues' books.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek is still just 22 and has the running power and eye for goal to decide games. Meanwhile, 24-year-old Ross Barkley has seen his form revived on Sarri's watch.

There's no shortage of technical flair in Chelsea's midfield ranks, but it doesn't mean the club couldn't still use an infusion of fresh talent. Playmaker Cesc Fabregas is 31, and Calciomercato reported on Monday that he is a target for AC Milan (h/t TalkSport). Mateo Kovacic's loan from Real Madrid also concludes at the end of the season.

Stepping up their interest in Aouar would be to Chelsea's benefit, but the growing list of suitors, along with their own strength in depth, means the Blues shouldn't be drawn into a bidding war.