Arsenal's hopes of signing Lyon midfielder Maxime Gonalons in January have been dealt a massive blow after the Frenchman revealed he wants to stay at Stade de Gerland, despite attracting additional interest from Manchester United.
The 25-year-old has been heavily linked with a £12 million transfer to the Premier League this month after seemingly outgrowing the Ligue 1 club, but in surprise comments made by the player he appears to have been swayed by the ambition shown by owner Jean-Michel Aulas, so much so that he's happy to commit his long-term future.
Gonalons has made 161 league appearances for Lyon, scoring six goals, and has established himself as an integral part of Hubert Fournier's first-team squad. He's been a virtual ever present in 2014/15 playing 19 games in all competitions to help his side to second place in the domestic table.
Les Gones are currently ahead of both Paris Saint-Germain and AS Monaco in the standings and just two points behind leaders Marseille at the halfway stage, so will fancy their chances of a genuine challenge for the French title this term.
Keeping hold of Gonalons will improve their prospects significantly heading into 2015, and Lyon supporters will be buoyed after reading his latest quotes which suggest he has no plans to leave any time soon.
"The young lads still have a lot to learn; the world of professional football isn't easy, either on or - especially - off the pitch," he is quoted saying by the Daily Star.
"There are lots of different parameters to take in to account. But I've always said, if the club is capable of holding on to all the young players, I think that in two or three years we'll have a really formidable team, because we have quality players and good people.
"The big new stadium is going to be ready early in 2016. When you see the club's ambition it makes you want to stay."
The news will come as a big blow to Arsene Wenger in his ongoing pursuit of midfield reinforcements at the Emirates Stadium, meaning that he'll now have to turn his attention to alternative options in the mid-season window.
Meanwhile, Manchester United - who have long been linked with a move for Gonalons - will also be forced to reassess their transfer plans if they had any intention of trying to lure the player to Old Trafford.
Having said that, the Gonalons rumour started long before Louis van Gaal took charge at the Theatre of Dreams, and with the likes of Kevin Strootman, Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba all being linked with the Red Devils in recent weeks it wouldn't be surprising if their alleged interest in the Lyon star has cooled.
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