Hossem Aouar, Bruno Guimaraes, Lyon
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Five things on Houssem Aouar, Lyon's nascent No.8

Publish on 24/09/2020 at 11:05

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Houssem Aouar may only be 22 but he is already on the cusp of a century of Ligue 1 Uber Eats appearances with Olympique Lyonnais. What else is there to know about the string-pulling midfielder?

1) Prodigious talent

 

Aouar joined Lyon's fabled youth academy in 2009 at the age of 11, and, after flying though the underage teams, made his first-team debut against Dutch outfit AZ Alkmaar in the last 32 of the UEFA Europa League aged 18 years, seven months and 18 days.

 

Although Aouar didn't score in that 4-1 first-leg win, he only had to wait a week to open his senior account, scoring the sixth of seven goals as OL romped to a 7-1 victory, prevailing 12-2 on aggregate, in the second leg between the two sides.

 

With three UEFA Youth League goals that season, Aouar was also nominated for the Golden Boy award at the end of that season.

 

Watch: Ligue 1 met Aouar in 20017


 

 

2) Multi-faceted

 

Although he broke through as a winger, Aouar has long since shown that he is comfortable operating almost anywhere in the final third. Nominally right-footed, Aouar is just as happy sprinting past his marker as he is letting the ball do the work.

 

Last season was his most prolific to date. Although he started at left midfield 20 times, he also lined up in central midfield 12 times and even led the line twice. Ever amenable, Aouar chipped with nine goals and 10 assists in all competition as Lyon finished third in Ligue 1 Uber eats and reached the UEFA Champions League semi-finals.

 

3) Yet a worthy No.8

 

Despite that versatility, Aouar was trusted with Lyon's famous No.8 jersey when he had just featured in five senior games with the club, a year after signing his first professional contract.

 

Former coach Bruno Génésio, current sporting director Juninho, Tottenham Hostpur midfielder Tanguy Ndombélé and former club captain Nabil Fekir have all donned that famous Lyon jersey, and it's fair to say that with 24 goals and 27 assists from 139 appearances in all competitions, Aouar has already done it justice.

Juninho, Lyon

 

4) Heroes

 

Perhaps unsurprisingly for a player in his position, Aouar cites former Lyon midfielder Juninho and French national icon Zinedine Zidane as two of his footballing heroes.

Arguably the greatest free-kick taker of all-time, Juninho was the beating heartbeat of the great Lyon team that won seven Ligue 1 Uber Eats titles back to back between 2002 and 2008, before taking up his current role in 2019.

 

Zidane perhaps needs even less introduction. The current Real Madrid manager shot to prominence as a player in the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France, though, his brace in the final against Brazil in Paris coming a matter of weeks after Aouar was born a five-hour drive away in Lyon.

 

Houssem Aouar, France 

 

5) International tug of war?

 

Like Zidane, Aouar also has Algerian parentage, making him eligible for les Fennecs and his country of birth, France.

 

Capped by France up to U21 level, Algeria nonetheless made a play for Aouar's services last January, with coach Djamel Belmadi approaching him to play in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. Aouar declined the call, though, and France look set to benefit.

 

Aouar was called up for August's UEFA Nations League matches with Sweden and Croatia, and although a positive coronavirus test put him in isolation, to be replaced by former OL teammate Fekir, Aouar's long-term future looks to be with les Bleus.