Liverpool could secure their ideal heir to Gini Wijnaldum this summer after being linked with a move for Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar.
The Reds have been credited with an interest in the technically gifted 23-year-old throughout the current transfer window and received a boost in their pursuit of the Frenchman on Tuesday.
According to RMC Sport (as relayed by Get French Football News), multiple Lyon players could be on their way out of the Ligue 1 club as director of sport Juninho looks to resolve an attitude problem within the dressing room.
Aouar was named amongst those potentially heading for the exit door, and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp should take advantage of the sudden change in circumstances, thus solving his engine room conundrum.
Despite his tender years, Aouar has been around for quite a while and has already cultivated a reputation as an extremely gifted dribbler, capable of splitting open a defence with a precise pass or finishing off a flowing move with a well-placed shot.
In 172 appearances for his boyhood club, the sought-after star has scored 32 goals, laying on a further 31 assists for his teammates, but his underlying numbers are arguably just as impressive. As per WhoScored, Aouar recorded an average of 2.3 shots, 1.3 key passes and 1.5 dribbles per game last season, highlighting his outstanding ability with the ball at his feet.
Compared to Wijnaldum’s respective tallies of 0.8 shots per game, 0.6 key passes and 0.9 dribbles, Aouar appears to be a big upgrade on the Dutch international, although those figures are heavily influenced by the tactical restrictions placed upon him by Klopp.
However, the comparison does illustrate how the Lyon ace has a different skillset to Wijnaldum, meaning that his arrival on Merseyside would represent an evolution in Liverpool’s midfield options rather than being a direct replacement.
Aouar’s unique set of attributes first caught the attention of an English audience when he came up against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the Champions League back in 2018, with the Spanish tactician lauding his performance after the final whistle.
“Houssem Aouar is a very good player. He is incredible,” said Guardiola.
“We talk a lot about (Tanguy) Ndombele, but Aouar is also excellent. He’s always very calm with the ball at his feet, with an excellent technical quality.”
Therefore, Liverpool’s director of football Michael Edwards must sanction a move for the £37.8m-rated maestro, plugging a Wijnaldum-shaped hole in Liverpool’s team.