Numerous reports have suggested that a £60m deal (plus add ons) is already in place between Liverpool and Lyon for a transfer to take place after the Champions League final in Kiev. The story has broken via Canal Plus who state a deal is “99% completed.”
Due to injuries, I think it’s pretty clear that we need another attacking midfielder as a priority. While there is an argument to be made that we look a more balanced team since the sale of Philippe Coutinho, the age old issue of an insufficient squad has exacerbated issues caused by his departure. Adam Lallana has barely featured all season due to a string of injuries and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is out indefinitely with a severe knee injury.
With no timeline placed on the latter’s return, it is patently obvious that we are short of creativity. The current midfield trio of Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Gini Wijnaldum is more about bustle than goalscoring might. For the record, that isn’t approaching a criticism. Emre Can has been injured for a few months now and otherwise we have only got Trent Alexander Arnold who can slot into midfield.
The Coutinho situation was taken out of our hands by the player who wanted his dream move. We’ve moved forward without him very impressively. But watching our season come to a leggy end, I think it’s pretty obvious that we need more of a creative spark in that midfield. Having already snapped up the highly coveted Naby Keita those reinforcements are on the way. But with the central midfield being so integral to the way we play and no sign of the protracted and frankly boring Emre Can contract saga being resolved in our favour, I think there is room for someone like Fekir.
The Frenchman does tick a lot of boxes. I’m not one to look at statistics too much, but Fekir’s particulars for 2017/2018 are very impressive. He has scored 23 goals this season and set up a further 9. That’s an impressive return for someone who isn’t a forward no matter what you think of the PSG dominated Ligue 1. He has also been called into the French squad for the World Cup.
He isn’t a classical central midfielder by any means and is more effective played that ten or fifteen yards further up the pitch. But with the amount of possession we have, particularly at Anfield, there is license for one of our midfielders to move that far forward and concentrate on trying to break down stubborn defences. Fekir is also versatile and can play across the front three which shouldn’t be required but as I say, we lack strength in depth.
At 24 years old (he will turn 25 over the summer) Fekir is entering the peak years of his career and a transfer now could see Liverpool be the beneficiaries of that. He certainly fits one of the biggest criteria that the owners go by – he’s young with room to become better. And as a captain he is vastly experienced for someone so relatively young. Rafa Benitez bought in leaders (Mascherano, Torres) and Klopp may well be looking to do the same to add to Henderson, Milner and van Dijk. The more experienced, winning mentalities we can fill the team with, the better.
These rumours have been ongoing since the start of May and really show no sign of going away. After initially being bullish about keeping Fekir, Lyon’s language has become a little less confident. The player himself hasn’t distanced himself from a move. After the game against Nice to close the season, Fekir said: “Is this goodbye? Honestly, I don’t know. I’ve had an exceptional season here with the exceptional players, fans and staff. We’ve finished beautifully. I think I gave everything in Lyon. Now it’s time to look into the future.”
The Lyon fans certainly seemed to be waving goodbye to their captain and talisman at full time on Saturday and you suspect that Fekir will move to pastures new before the World Cup starts. Only time will tell whether Jürgen Klopp has him earmarked for a place in his Liverpool revolution.