Houssem Aouar is adamant his decision to stay at Lyon will prove correct after spilling the beans on his transfer talks with Arsenal.
The Gunners saw multiple offers for the 22-year-old rejected by Lyon, as the French club stood strong on their €60m (£55.5m) valuation.
Aouar was one of Mikel Arteta’s top midfield targets for the window. However, the Gunners ended up landing Thomas Partey £45.4m on deadline day instead.
But despite failing to secure a Premier League move, Aouar is adamant his decision will prove the right one.
“I am happy, this is my city and this my club,” Aouar told Telefoot while on international duty with France.
“I am proud to represent this club, I have so much motivation to make a great season.
“We made a choice, I’m happy to stay here. [Lyon president] Jean-Michel Aulas and [sporting director] Juninho convinced me to stay in Lyon.”
Aouar made his full France debut on Thursday and scored nine goals and made 10 more in all competitions last season.
Asked if he was given a straight choice of signing for Arsenal or staying at Lyon, the midfielder had a diplomatic reply.
“No, not necessarily. But it is true that at the end it was basically that. So, ultimately I had to make a decision and I am happy to stay here.”
Aouar, however, did admit that Lyon’s sporting director Juninho played a major part in keeping him at the club.
He said: “As well as others, I spoke an enormous amount with Juni. Everyday he shows his faith in me. It is a real pleasure for me to work with him and stay here for at least another season with Juni is a major source of pride.”
Huge loyalty bonus for Ozil
Aouar has been touted by many as Arsenal’s long-term successor to Mesut Ozil.
The German playmaker has been frozen out of the first team by Mikel Arteta. However, a clause in his contract stated he was to be paid an £8m bonus last month for staying at Arsenal.
That’s the news via David Ornstein of The Athletic.
Ozil’s bonus was due to him after it was included in the last contract he penned in January 2018. His salary was raised to £350,000 a week at the time. So desperate were the Gunners for him to see out that deal until the summer of 2021, they included the incentive.