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Lyon supremo Aulas reckons Arsenal can’t afford Houssem Aouar transfer fee after coronavirus nightmare

LYON president Jean-Michel Aulas doubts Arsenal can afford midfielder Houssem Aouar's price tag.

The Lyon star was reportedly the subject of a £32million offer from the Gunners on Thursday, but last season's Champions League semi-finalists want closer to £54million for the France under-21 international.

Aulas, who is known to drive a hard bargain, believes Arsenal will be unable to meet his asking price for Aouar due to the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Aulas told French outlet Le Progres: "Financially, Arsenal are like everyone else.

"And Houssem could say to himself that the best thing would be to stay with us.

"From the start I said that we would not lose the three players announced every day in the newspapers [Aouar, Moussa Dembele and Memphis Depay]."

Negotiations between Arsenal and Lyon are understood to be ongoing.

Personal terms with Aouar are not thought to be an issue, with a five-year deal in place for the 22-year-old who is keen on a move to the Emirates.

Earlier this month, Lyon sporting director Juninho revealed the club rejected an exchange proposal for Aouar which would have seen Arsenal send Matteo Guendouzi in the other direction.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has made signing a midfielder his No1 priority for the remainder of the transfer window, with Atletico Madrid's Thomas Partey also under consideration.

Arsenal have been busy trying to offload fringe players to raise funds for Aouar.

Lucas Torreira, Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi are among the names the north London outfit are hopeful of selling.

The Gunners also raised £20million through the sale of second-choice keeper Emiliano Martinez to Aston Villa.

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