Houssem Aouar

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Transfer news: Aouar to Liverpool, Ighalo deal in doubt

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The latest transfer news has linked Liverpool with a move for Houssem Aouar and Man United could face a battle to keep Odion Ighalo at Old Trafford.

Starting with a possible incoming at Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp’s runaway Premier League leaders have been linked with a few central midfielders in recent weeks and Lyon star Houssem Aouar is the latest.

According to French outlet L’Equipe, Aouar, 21, will be allowed to move on from Lyon in the upcoming transfer window (whenever that is) and with the French giants not in the UEFA Champions League next season due to the Ligue 1 table being calculated on a points-per-game basis, they will have to bring in funds in other ways. The report says that Memphis Depay could also be sold as Lyon look to reshape their squad and cash in on their star attacking talents.

Aouar has been linked with pretty much every top team in Europe and the French U21 international is versatile and can play anywhere across midfield. His ability on the ball and attacking instincts stand out and he has a bright future. But should that be at Liverpool? Naby Keita cannot stay fit while both Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum are pushing towards the age of 30 with James Milner and Fabinho more defensive options in central midfield.

The obvious question this throws up is what does a potential move for Aouar mean for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s future at Liverpool? He plays in the same position and it is fair to say his 2019-20 season has been topsy-turvy as he works his way back to being a regular.

Focusing on Man United, they are in a tough spot with loan signing Odion Ighalo according to our partners in the UK, Sky Sports.

His loan spell from Shanghai Shenhua ends on July 1 and the new Chinese Super League season is due to begin in July, so a new agreement will need to be made between Man United and his parent club for Ighalo to stay for the remainder of the 2019-20 season as it is due to resume in mid-June at the earliest.

Ighalo, 30, has scored four goals in eight appearances for Man United since he arrived on loan in January as emergency cover for injured striker Marcus Rashford. With the long suspension of the Premier League, perhaps Man United no longer need Ighalo as Rashford will be close to full fitness when games may return? The Nigerian striker has been the perfect back-up option for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and it would be harsh to not keep him around for longer but it is clear Shanghai Shenhua would want extra compensation and that means a permanent deal.

Per the report, Shanghai Shenhua want $25 million for Ighalo and Newcastle United have already shown interest in a permanent move for the former Watford striker. Man United probably don’t need to sign Ighalo permanently but seem keen to keep him around on a loan deal at least for the rest of this season to help them with the possible PL, FA Cup and Europa League campaigns.

Lyon scores memorable win over misfiring Juventus

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Lucas Tousart’s first-half goal led Lyon to a 1-0 defeat of visitors Juventus in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie. (video)

Juve had 14 shots but failed to put one on target in the loss.

The second leg is March 17 in Turin.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Tousart opened the scoring when he leapt to smack a Houssem Aouar cross past Wojciech Szczesny in the 31st.

Karl Toko Ekambi blazed a shot over the bar later in the half to let Juve off the hook.

As the match passed the hour mark, it was going according to Lyon’s plan. Juve had 62 percent of the ball but Lyon had double its visitors’ chances (12-6). None of Juve’s efforts were on target.

The Old Lady was much better in the latter stages, but Lyon still managed to hold Cristiano Ronaldo without a shot on target. Lyon was whistled for four fouls against the Portuguese.

Juve had a goal late, but the flag was up.

Lyon strengthens Champions League place with win over Angers

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Olympique Lyonnais is one step closer to a spot in next year’s Champions League after topping Angers 2-1 on Friday thanks to first-half goals by Memphis Depay and Martin Terrier.

Depay opened the scoring just 14 minutes in with his seventh goal of the Ligue 1 season, breaking away thanks to an incredible long-ball up the field from 20-year-old French youth international Houssem Aouar. Depayevaded a last-ditch tackle by Mateo Pavlovic and scored one-on-one with Angers goalkeeper Ludovic Butelle. It marked the Dutchman’s first goal since a 5-1 win over Toulouse in early March, and just his second league tally since mid-November.

With six minutes to go until halftime, Lyon struck again as Aouar provided yet another wonderful assist, threading a ball down the middle from the halfway line that a streaking Terrier connected with after splitting the defensive unit. That left the 22-year-old alone with Butelle and he also finished the breakaway chance.

The two assists for Aouar mark his first multi-assist match of the season and sees his assist total move to five on the league campaign to go along with his seven goals. The youngster has cooled off since his blistering start to the year where he scored five goals in an eight-match span through October and November. Still, he has been a vital part of the Lyon squad this season, having racked up 2,541 Ligue 1 minutes out of a possible 2,970.

The win strengthens Lyon’s position in third place in the Ligue 1 table, moving them to 59 points, six ahead of fourth-placed St. Etienne and eight above fifth-placed Marseille. It would be the club’s second season in a row in the Champions League, having reached the Round of 16 this time around before elimination at the hands of Barcelona.