Houssem Aouar: Coutinho’s replacement?
Houssem Aouar is a French central midfielder who plays for Ligue 1 side Olympique Lyonnais. He was linked frequently with the Reds last summer but in the end, signed a new 5 year deal with Lyon. However, as Liverpool fans, we all know a new deal means nothing as Coutinho and Suarez both signed new deals before leaving to go join Barcelona.
WHO IS AOUAR?
Aouar is a versatile midfielder who’s either able to play in an attacking role or able to play as a box-to-box midfielder completing lots of metres on the pitch. He’s a France under 21 international and has made 7 appearances for Les Bleus’ u21 side. At 20 years of age Aouar hasn’t been on the first team set up with OL for a great amount of time, but last year had his breakout season which was a successful campaign for his boyhood club as it saw them get back into the Champions League last season. His season last year and his good start to the 2018/2019 campaign for Olympique Lyonnais has subsequently seen him become one of the hottest midfield prospects in Europe.
He joined Lyon at the age of 11 and has continued his development with the French side throughout his career so far, never leaving the club on loan. At the age of 16, he was a part of the OL U17 side who won the French U17 title in 2014. In February of 2017, he made his first-team debut for the club against AZ Alkmaar in the UEFA Europa League as an 84th-minute substitute. In the second leg of OL’s Europa League tie with AZ, the French U21 international scored his first ever professional goal for the side, in a 7-1 victory.
HIS PLAYING STYLE
He’s best suited to be the most attacking of a 3 in a midfield but has also shown his versatility by playing deeper in a box to box role or even the deepest of a midfield 3. Also, he has shown himself to be a great dribbler, averaging over 2 completed dribbles a game, and loves the ball at his feet whether this being running at opposition defences or keeping the play simple and dictating tempo. He is also a keen goalscoring midfielder showing his ability last season scoring 6 in Ligue 1 Conforama. Creativity is another keen aspect of his game as he has great vision and the capability to play a defence-splitting pass when his side needs a goal. He grabbed 5 assists in the league for OL last season.
This season in Ligue 1, Aouar has played 12 games for OL with only 2 of these being as a substitute. These 12 appearances in the league have accumulated to 896 minutes of playing time. In these games, he has shown his shooting abilities averaging 2.3 shots a game with a 14% conversion rate scoring 4 goals this season averaging 1 every 3 matches. He is yet to register an assist in the league this season but has shown his creativity in the big games in Europe for Lyon, as he has assisted 3 goals in 4 games OL in the Champions League.
Despite him not registering an assist, Aouar is still creating chances. In the league this season he has created 11 chances in total for his teammates, averaging just under 1 every game. The Frenchman has also showcased his passing ability this season averaging at least 40 passes a game and 85% of the time his pass is always reaching its man. His dribbling has also been to a high standard this season having 17 completed take-ons and over 2 completed dribbles per game.
SIMILARITIES TO COUTINHO
As I’m sure you all remember, for the time Coutinho was at Liverpool he gave us some good memories before becoming the world’s most expensive central midfielder. The Brazilian loved to dribble with the ball and unlock tight defences whether that would be with a thunderous strike or a beautifully timed pass for another attacking player to finish off a move.
Aouar has similar attributes to the Brazilian as he is also a keen dribbler and has the ability to finish off a move with style. One of the only differences between the two attacking midfielders is that a lot of Aouar’s goals come from within the box with all of 4 of his this season coming from within 18 yards
Here is a highlight video to give you an idea why one of the hottest midfield prospects in world football would be a good fit for Klopp’s side.