Houssem Aouar is a product of Olympique Lyonnais’ successful youth system that seems to churn out no end of exciting young talent, especially in the technically adept midfielder mould of which this Frenchman of Algerian descent is a prime example.
Aouar was born and raised in Lyon and joined the club as an eleven-year-old in 2009. Eleven years down the line, having spent over half his lifetime on the club’s books, he has established himself as one of the team’s most prized assets and has reportedly caught the eye of scouts from some of Europe’s top clubs.
He can play in a number of positions across the midfield, but is probably best suited to a central role. He’s blessed with a good first touch and is comfortable on the ball and running at opponents. He’s something of an all-rounder with an engine to get up and down the pitch between the boxes, but on balance his game tends to be much more attacking than defensive.
If there was one glaring area for improvement in his game over the past couple of seasons since he became a first team regular in the 2017-18 campaign it has been his end product in the final third. All too often he would make the wrong decisions when in a good position in or around the opposition penalty area and would waste possession in a promising situation.
He seemingly had far too great a confidence in his own shooting ability and would often shoot from range, failing to trouble the goalkeeper, when teammates were available in better positions. Be it poor decision making, or simply a lack of vision and awareness on the pitch, it’s a trait common to many young players and one that often diminishes as they gain experience.
He has worked hard at this aspect of his game over the past season and has finally started to find the net a bit more regularly, scoring nine times in thirty-seven appearances in the the 2019-20 season before the Covid-19 pandemic and producing some crucial goals in big matches. His performances have gone a long way towards filling the gap left in the Lyon midfield when Nabil Fekir left for Betis in summer 2019 and he has started to become a leader on the pitch in his own right.
Aouar has represented France at under 17 and under 21 levels and if he continues to rise on his current trajectory then it may not be long until he gets a call-up to the full French squad. It remains to be seen whether he will continue his development at his home town club or whether Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas will choose to cash in on another of his bright young stars and accept an offer from one of his many suitors.