Olympique Lyon missed out on European qualification last season. However, the club have quickly risen to the top four of the French top tier, with no European participation this season. The club currently sits third in the table, two points adrift of leaders Lille.
Despite getting off to a lackluster start to his Lyon tenure, manager Rudi Garcia has finally managed to revive the club's fortunes in the league. One man that he should thank for the team's form is dynamic midfielder Houssem Aouar.
The 22-year-old made his debut in 2017 against SC Bastia and has gone on to establish himself as one of France's finest young players. While Moussa Dembele and Memphis Depay often steal the headlines when Lyon play well, Aouar has gone under the radar.
However, several clubs pursued Aouar in the summer and Arsenal remain interested in the player. While they targeted Aouar in the summer, they landed Thomas Party from Atletico Madrid.
Despite showing a desire to retain Aouar's services for another year, Lyon has a few problems of their own. The COVID-19 pandemic has diluted the club's expendable finance. With Ligue 1 broadcasting partners MediaPro calling off their contract, French clubs are set to record massive shortfalls and Lyon is no exception.
While the club managed to save Aouar from potential suitors in the summer, they might be tempted to sell the player to improve their financial situation. However, there is another consideration to be made: the title race.
PSG's mixed fortunes in the league this season is no secret. Olympique de Marseille boss Andre Villas-Boas had the following to say about PSG:
"PSG is lacking consistency and they're not playing as well. They have a lot of injured players. It's too early to talk of the title but it means we can continue to dream. Beating PSG at the Parc des Princes this season gives us hope for the Trophée des Champions against them in January," revealed Andre Villas-Boas.
Lyon will fancy their chances in the league this year as well. However, Aouar's presence in the line-up is a must for Rudi Garcia's men if they are to have a chance of winning the title.
Aouar has scored two goals and provided three assists this season - the most for any Lyon midfielder. With a pass accuracy of 84%, he is the best midfield option Lyon has got at the moment.
Aouar was also a part of the impressive midfield trio with Lucas Tousart and Thiago Mendes that took Lyon to the Champions League semi-final last season. He was also involved in the equalizer against RB Leipzig, which got them to the Round of 16.
While Aouar may only be 22, he has already played for the French national team. However, the player is of more importance to Lyon, who have as good a chance as Marseille and Lille to upset the odds and win the title this year.Published 17 Dec 2020, 23:19 IST