REAL MADRID

Real Madrid, Liverpool and Juve keen on Lyon's Houssem Aouar

Zinedine Zidane has expressed his admiration for the Lyon midfielder but Real Madrid are set to face competition from Juventus and Liverpool for the 22-year-old.

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Real Madrid have a long-standing interest in Lyon and France midfielder Houssem Aouar as the Liga giants seek to inject fresh impetus into a midfield still heavily reliant on the form and fitness of 35-year-old Luka Modric. While the Bernabéu board are preoccupied with trying to force their way to the front of the queue for Kylian Mbappé and Erling Haaland, Zinedine Zidane has been pondering the centre of the park and has been keeping a close eye on the 22-year-old.

Aouar has been enjoying a stellar season in Ligue 1 at the heart of Lyon’s bid to dethrone perennial champions PSG, scoring six times and providing three assists from a roving central midfield role. His ability to launch attacks and drift out to the left is also attractive to Zidane with Aouar assuming a leadership role at Lyon despite his youth. His performance this season have also not gone unnoticed by Didier Deschamps, who handed Aouar a senior debut for France last October amid interest in his availability from Algeria.

European giants interested in Aouar

Real Madrid will not have a clear run at Aouar if and when a bid is forthcoming though with Liverpool on the lookout for reinforcements in the same position. Jürgen Klopp views the player as a perfect fit and is keen to line up a successor to Georginio Wijnaldum, who is out of contract at Anfield this summer according to L’Equipe.

Juventus and Arsenal made overtures to lure Aouar from Lyon last summer and have not withdrawn their interest but Madrid have a couple of advantages over their transfer rivals. Aouar has cited Zidane as one of his idols and the admiration is mutual. Lyon and Madrid also enjoy a cordial relationship with Karim Benzema, Ferland Mendy and Mariano having played for both sides. The latter moved to Lyon and enjoyed a prolific season before being re-signed by Madrid and could be used as a makeweight in a deal.

Madrid will probably have to consider a player-plus-cash offer given the number of suitors for Aouar and the reluctance of Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas to negotiate a €60m price tag. If the Bernabéu board are successful in their bid for one of Mbappé and Haaland there will be little left in the bank to meet the full asking price, but there has never been a shortage of fringe players to make up the difference with several possibilities open to Zidane this summer from among his current squad.