For a long time it looked like Nabil Fekir was destined for Anfield. The word was that everything would be signed and sealed before the World Cup began and fans were already celebrating what could only be a great addition to the team. But then there came the shock announcement that the deal was off. Lyon claimed that they had pulled out of the negotiations but it was also reported that Liverpool stopped the talks over concerns about a long-standing knee injury – Fekir was out of action for the majority of the 2015-16 season with torn ligaments.
But should Jurgen Klopp have overlooked this concern and pressed ahead for the transfer? And how would Fekir have fitted into the team?
One player who certainly believes that he would make the perfect replacement for the departing Coutinho is Mohamed Salah who is allegedly threatening to quit so great is his disappointment.
There’s no doubt that Fekir would have brought a huge range of options with him for Klopp to tinker with the side and to make it a far more effective unit in the 2018-2019 season. His inclusion in the French squad for this summer’s World Cup is a clear indicator of his ability. France are 7/1 to win the World Cup, with only three teams at a shorter price.
Of course, the midfield is the area that Fekir has made his own and it’s here that he would make the biggest difference by bolstering the efforts of both Milner and Oxlade-Chamberlain and injecting some much needed creativity into this area of the team. One only has to look at his records on assists while at Lyon to see that this is a man who’s a true playmaker in every sense of the word.
There have been rumblings that if Fekir was pushed further forward with Liverpool he might not have the support needed to continue making these great assists but, on the other hand, the pace of Salah and Mane should mean that this is never too much of an issue.
Another of the great strengths that Fekir would have brought to Liverpool is his huge versatility. At his time with Lyon he’s been deployed in a number of different positions including attacking midfield, right wing and even as an out and out striker. So the proposed 70 million euros transfer fee would have been buying three distinct players – quite a bargain when you look at it that way. Nor should we overlook Fekir’s proven ability in the set piece, regularly delivering balls that give the very best opportunity for strikers to head or slot them home – again, an area that has been rather lacking in recent times for the Reds.
Finally, there are his undoubted leadership skills. Made captain of Lyon at the age of just 25, Fekir would have made the perfect skipper in waiting and one who could have proved so essential in Klopp’s succession planning at Anfield.
But it was not to be. And now the only way any Liverpool fan can benefit from his considerable talents is by betting on him, or his nation, at the World Cup finals. It also time to keep fingers crossed that Klopp can manage to find that elusive replacement for the supreme skills of Coutinho in time for the new season.