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Do Liverpool really need to sign Nabil Fekir this summer?


Do Liverpool really need to sign Nabil Fekir this summer?

The Frenchman nearly joined the Reds last season and there are rumours that interest has been revived.

AS the football version of the famous board game Guess Who continues to unfold before us in the sporting media, it seems some familiar names are cropping up as Liverpool links in the transfer market.

There is no doubt whatsoever that some of the less ethical of storytellers simply join the dots for the clicks at this time of year, when as little as a retweet on Twitter or a follow on Instagram can send a fanbase into a frenzy.

So instead of asking a Guess Who opponent, ‘has he got a beard?’, they instead stare at a keyboard and say, ‘do Liverpool need an attacking midfielder?’. If ‘yes’, the next step is, who is available, for how much, and is there any love between him and the Reds we can dig up to make it feel real?

 

There’s no other real credible-sounding explanation for the continued rumours of Liverpool returning to negotiations over the future of Lyon’s Nabil Fekir.

 

As has been well documented, the France international was on the brink of a £53million transfer to Liverpool a year ago, only to end up staying put on the other side of the Channel.

 

Now, with only 12 months of his contract remaining, renewed speculation about a move is rife with Fekir’s agent Jean-Pierre Bernes saying: “It is not about staying here.

 

"And we will know maybe the real circumstances that prevented Fekir’s move to Liverpool. The knee was a part of it, but not only that.

 

“He had passed a medical, done photos with the Reds shirt…”

The intriguing mystery hint of something more than the widely accepted story of a breakdown over medical reasons keeps the fire burning on rumours of a red revival.

But do Liverpool really need Fekir now? Are the transfer priorities the same as 12 months previous for Jürgen Klopp’s European Champions?

A year ago, it seemed vital that The Reds added more guile to a midfield perhaps topping out on graft. A Philippe Coutinho-type hole was visible to many, an over-reliance on the front men was also suggested.

And the man posting figures of 23 goals and eight assists in France certainly raised excitement levels on Merseyside as someone who could fire Liverpool to more.

FEKIR TO SIGN FOR LIVERPOOL THIS SUMMER - 6/4

When it all petered out to nothing it was tough to take. This was a done deal. YouTubes had been pored over, stats had been gorged on, the imagined pretty patterns of Fekir linking with Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Bobby Firmino had already been mapped out in minds and club videos were seemingly in the can.

Not only did Fekir not arrive at Anfield, neither did another player of his standing and stature in that role. A Fekir-shaped hole to add to the one punctured by Coutinho’s goodbye kept that Guess Who board clicking away hard.

Yet. But. Well.

Since then, Fekir hasn’t been quite so impressive, according to his stats at least. In the season just gone, despite appearing in a similar number of games to the previous campaign, his goal output was down to 12, while his assists stayed similar at nine.

Was that mental state? Motivation? Or something that could be levelled at Lyon in general?

For the record, the club again achieved third place in Ligue 1, winning only six points less than the previous season.

As for Liverpool, interest in Fekir came at a time when the club had lost a Champions League final to Real Madrid and finished 25 points adrift of title-winners Manchester City in the Premier League. It’s a very different beast that now lives at Melwood, with players feeling like kings and playing to their potential and more.

Further, no longer are Naby Keita and Fabinho new to Liverpool and new to the Premier League. They will be better adjusted to the requirements of Klopp and the needs of the Premier League. It’s also too soon to be writing off Xherdan Shaqiri. He too can now focus on honing his game to impress Klopp after a year at the club.

All three can reasonably be expected to deliver more next season.

Then there’s Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain. A year ago, plans were being laid for a tilt at the titles minus the former Arsenal man due to ruptured cruciate ligaments in his knee.

This time, after two appearances at the end of last season and a busy pre-season ahead, his drive, goals and assists, all the things ticked on the shopping list for Fekir, can be put down as part of the plan - and minus the millions or the settling-in period post French football.

There must surely also be some respect for those that drove Liverpool on to Champions League glory and a 97-point so-near-yet-so-far Premier League campaign.

Football summers always call for the new, yet the old guard of Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Gini Wijanaldum did the Reds proud last time out, despite the critics who lamented a lack of goals from the middlemen.

Reinforcements to Klopp’s squad will undoubtedly arrive as the summer wears on. But maybe a Fekir-type is no longer the basket where eggs will be placed between now and August. A back-up keeper, cover at full-back and more flexible support across the starting front three positions look the more pressing concerns.

For the Guess Who journalists, it’s back to square one. Now, has he won a World Cup, does he play in France and has Klopp previously voiced a fondness for his talent....

 

 

 


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