Houssem Aouar changes international allegiance after earning just one France cap

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Houssem Aouar will represent Algeria at international level (Image: Getty Images)
Houssem Aouar will represent Algeria at international level (Image: Getty Images)

Houssem Aouar will continue his international career with Algeria after saying goodbye to World Cup runners-up France.

Aouar, who has been linked with Arsenal, has become one of the most prominent footballers in Ligue 1 after scoring 30 goals and providing 23 assists in the division for Lyon. The 24-year-old won one cap for France in October 2020, against Ukraine, and it seems that will be his last.

The Algerian Football Federation's president, Djahid Zefizef, has confirmed Aouar has chosen to play for his country. The attacking midfielder refused to address his international career in a recent interview with the French press after months of speculation.

"Houssem Aouar has given us his agreement to join the Algerian selection," Zefizef told Algerian TV, as quoted by DZfoot. Aouar is yet to comment on the news.

Aouar represented France at youth level, winning 17 caps for the under-21s, but is eligible to play for Algeria and has long pondered his international future. Although he's represented France at senior level, his one and only cap came against Ukraine in a friendly.

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Aouar was last asked about his international future at the beginning of November, but he only wanted to discuss Lyon's Ligue 1 clash against Marseille. "I want to talk about Marseille only," he told reporters, as quoted by French newspaper L'Equipe.

Houssem Aouar changes international allegiance after earning just one France capHoussem Aouar played for France in 2020 (Getty Images)

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Algeria manager Djamel Belmadi has been trying to persuade Aouar to join his team since his appointment in 2018. "I contacted Aouar pretty much as soon as I started my role with Algeria, but [it] turns out he always wanted to play for France," said Belmadi after Aouar made his France debut. "Aouar made his decision a long time ago."

Despite that disappointment, it seems as if Belmadi has finally got his man. While Aouar's future has been resolved, it's unclear whether he will still be a Lyon player come June. The playmaker's existing deal expires at the end of this season.

Arsenal have tried to sign Aouar in recent years but were put off by Lyon's significant price tag, believed to be £55million. He remains a top midfielder and will have a number of clubs after his signature if he decides against signing a new contract at Lyon.

Algeria are also trying to persuade Aouar's former Lyon team-mate Amine Gouiri to turn his back on France. The 22-year-old striker, who plays for Rennes, has won 23 caps for France's U21s and is closing in on a senior call-up after scoring eight goals this term.

Nevertheless, Algeria aren't giving up on Gouiri. Zefizef added: "We are also in discussion with Amine Gouiri. However, in his case, nothing has yet been decided. Obviously, the Blues [France] are in the back of my mind.

"It's up to me to keep working, to do everything possible to get there, because sometimes it can go quickly. There is a lot of competition for the positions in front, but maybe my versatility will help me in the future."

Tom Blow

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