€17m former Arsenal target could still join Napoli... in the summer

Napoli

Another twist regarding the future of Maxime Gonalons.

Arsenal reportedly had a look at the Lyon man over the summer, but interest eventually stagnated and midfield sights were set elsewhere in north London - namely Mesut Ozil.

Fine form for the 24-year-old this term piqued the interest of Napoli – in need of reinforcements in the centre of the park – with the club in hot pursuit of his signature since December.

The situation came to a head over the weekend when reports in Italy suggested a move to the San Paolo for the Frenchman was imminent.

And indeed it was – only for the deal to collapse when Les Gones president Jean-Michel Aulas pulled the plug at the final moment.

Aulas’ decision incensed Napoli counterpart Aurelio De Laurentiis – who claimed the Lyon chief reneged on a promise to sell for €17m, exactly what was offered.

The move’s demise seemed to open up a window for Arsenal to possibly come back into the frame with a bid for Gonalons’ services in the summer.

Yet, the saga has taken now another turn as Aulas – whose club is thought to be in a tenuous financial position – revealed he may have to backtrack and send his crown jewel to southern Italy after all.

“I don’t know if what I did is courageous, but I can say the situation is real,” he told Mercato365.

“Economically it is a surprising sum, but Maxime is the captain of a team that is working well and his efforts are important. He is a symbol to the Lyon youngsters.

“Selling him would be significant for our accounts, but we must also consider the performances on the field and that is the decision we made. I hope that I can maintain the decision until January 31.”

Gonalons’ agent – Frederic Guerra - has also weighed in on the circumstances at present, noting his client’s desire to join the Serie A giants and expressing hope that the switch will indeed happen.

“The situation is clear,” he said to Radio Crc. “Maxime wanted to wear the Napoli shirt and it was all agreed. Then the Lyon manager got angry because Gonalons represents the history of the club and it was also difficult for the President to turn down Napoli’s offer.

“Aulas said no, but I have seen him change his mind many times. The important thing would be for Aurelio De Laurentiis to stay in contact with the Lyon president.

“I spoke to De Laurentiis this morning and he told me of his disappointment at the Gonalons negotiations. I didn’t ask him if he’ll try again, but we have to hope the two presidents will remain in contact.”

What’s simple in the complicated situation is that both Gonalons and his representative are still ready to go through with the transfer if possible.

Agents of course hold a measure of power in influencing the entire process and Aulas has expressed doubt at his initial choice – leaving the door open to be swayed.

If he does hold firm, however, there’s bound to be clubs back in for Gonalons come summer, and Arsenal would do well to reopen their case for a high-calibre player.

Some silverware to back them up would certainly aid in this pursuit, but we’ll have to see how the madness of January plays out first to learn if the opportunity will arise.

image: © luigig

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