Jean-Michel Aulas thinks Hatem Ben Arfa wants to return to Lyon ahead of next season, but realises they face stiff competition
Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas believes Nice star Hatem Ben Arfa has set his sights on a return to the club, but has acknowledged they could miss out on the 29-year-old as they cannot match the wages on offer at Europe's top clubs.
Ben Arfa is available on a free transfer come July and recently revealed that 18 clubs have shown an interest in signing him following his stellar 2015-16 campaign with Nice, including La Liga champions Barcelona.
Aulas thinks Ben Arfa personally prefers a return to his boyhood club, but feels his representatives are pushing for a move elsewhere.
"We have to take the economic situation into consideration," Aulas told the official Lyon website.
"Europe's biggest clubs are after Hatem's signature.
"But I would love it if he returned to Lyon. He would fit into our formation, but he is also in Lyon's heart.
"I know that he loves Lyon and wants to return here, but he will have to convince his agents."
Ben Arfa won four Ligue 1 titles with Lyon between 2004-05 and 2007-08, before leaving the club for Marseille. He also wore the jerseys of Newcastle United and Hull City before joining Nice a year ago.