Mathieu Valbuena is one of a trio of creative midfielders targeted by Lyon as they bolster their squad for next season's Champions League challenge.
Last season's Ligue 1 runners-up, are without Clement Grenier, who has been ruled out for four months after rupturing a thigh tendon.
That means Dinamo Moscow's Valbuena, 30, is the priority target for Lyon, who have also identified Younes Belhanda, of Dynamo Kiev, and Manchester City's Rony Lopes, who spent last season on loan at Lille, as potential recruits.
"We're talking on the three fronts -- it's not easy," club president Jean-Michel Aulas told Le Parisien.
"These players play in leagues whose economic value is superior to ours, and with different fiscal situations. I'm working night and day on it, but for the moment we're not able to move forward."
Lyon are cannot match Valbuena's wages, and though the player is willing to take a cut he may not be ready to go low enough to accommodate them, L'Equipe has reported.
The paper said hopes of a Belhanda deal were stalling because Lyon wanted to take him on loan while his club intended to sell him.
Lyon also face competition for 19-year-old Lopes, although his agent told Le Parisien "he liked it in Ligue 1 and could be interested in joining a French club".
Aulas will present new signing Rafael to the media on Saturday and, according to L'Equipe, may also have good news for fans about striker Alexandre Lacazette.
Lacazette, Ligue 1's top scorer last season with 27 goals, had been tipped to move but is reportedly now set to sign a one-year contract.
However, Lyon's hopes of signing Malaga midfielder Sergi Darder appear to be fading after the La Liga club's owner vetoed the move.