Houssem Aouar is the point of a knife, the soft glide of a quill across a fresh page. He’s divine in possession and robust out of it. A remarkable talent with a Man of the Match performance in the Champions League. He’s been here before.
Born in Lyon and part of their academy since the age of eight, Houssem Aouar signed his first professional contract in 2016 and made his debut six months later: a Europa League game against AZ Alkmaar. The second leg of that fixture saw his first goal and already we were seeing exceptional talent on the continental stage. But there was always more to come.
His masterclass may have opened eyes, but Aouar has been doing this for some time. An immaculate sense of spacing between defenders and with the end product of a seasoned professional, the Frenchman averages four dribbles and two tackles a game in the UEFA Champions League (WhoScored). Developed.
That first touch. A burst of acceleration. Aouar’s assist yesterday just exemplifies the transient nature of his all-around game. Despite beginning in central midfield alongside Bruno Guimaraes, he picked the ball up on the left flank. From there, he skated past two-time Champions League winner Danilo before playing an intelligent ball across the face of the box. Tapped in by Lucas Tousart.
If anything was in doubt, the 21-year-old had reminded eager onlookers of his unarguable ability. A naughty nutmeg on Paulo Dybala wooed the crowd but it was his overall performance that should take the plaudits. Lyon are 7th in Ligue 1, far below where they expect to be, but Aouar has continued to improve. There is every chance he will leave his hometown club.
Marvellous playmaking and an improved defensive game, Aouar can fit into almost any system in the world. Liverpool would be an interesting choice, as he certainly has the energy to fit Klopp’s ideology, as well as quality in the final third. Whether there is enough space in that team for Aouar to get regular gametime is another question.
With one goal and three assists in just five Champions League games, being able to do it on the big stage is a huge factor in today’s market. Lyon will have to sell if the season continues as it has begun; there is no way Houssem Aouar will not play Champions League football next season. But for now, sit back and enjoy the ride. Don’t forget Lyon may just get the best of Juve!
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