He’s 25-years old.
He’s scored 71 career goals.
He’s got 46 assists to his name.
He’s been widely regarded as one of the most talented creative talents in Europe over the past year. But oddly, no-one seems to want Nabil Fekir.
No-one in the Premier League at least. That seems almost unfathomable, given he was valued around €70m last year as Liverpool furiously hunted him down. Manchester City and Arsenal have also shown interest, if we believe what we read.
So what’s changed?
First off, many say that he hasn’t yet proven himself at the highest level because he’s spent his whole career playing in Ligue 1 with Lyon. Many also say that he would struggle to keep up with the best the Premier League has to offer, going missing in tough away games – which, let’s be honest, are becoming more regular as the seasons go on.
To put this argument to bed, one must only have to look at his performances in Europe.
The 2017/18 Europa League campaign saw Fekir score as Lyon dispatched of Everton 2-1 at Goodison Park, before they then ran riot with a 3-0 victory at the Groupama Stadium. Captaining a side who comfortably saw off the Toffees is one indication that he’s up to it.
Fast-forward to last season’s Champions League and Fekir notched three goals and two assists in his six group stage matches. Not bad, eh?
More importantly, Fekir was instrumental in Lyon’s 2-1 dismantling of Pep Guardiola’s Man City at the Etihad – where he was involved in both goals. Outside of his goal contributions, his overall performance was top drawer – oozing class on the ball and demonstrating great composure and vision.
Whether he’s playing as an attacking midfielder or a little further forward, Fekir is one hell of an option to have at your disposal.
His versatility and intricate technique have already shown that he can create chances, for himself and his teammates. He’s adept at bringing wingers into the game, can drop deep to play in a strike partner or can lead the line himself – traits that aren’t easy to find at the highest level on a consistent basis.
Last season’s successes of Memphis Depay and Moussa Dembele are no doubt related to the ability of their captain to constantly involve them in the game. Which makes you wonder why teams, such as Arsenal, are reluctant to go all out for his signature.
With the likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre Emerick-Aubemeyang latching onto, and finishing, the majority of chances they can get hold of, surely the key is to bring in some quality that can consistently create chances?
Luxury players such as Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are brilliant at 4.30pm on a Saturday when their side is 2-0 up and cruising at the Emirates, but to compete at the top of the Premier League, you need players who can instigate that 2-1 midweek win at Goodison Park.
As for Liverpool, the Fekir transfer saga has raged on for over a year now. After the then 24-year-old’s extremely impressive 2017/18 season, where he netted 23 times, Jurgen Klopp attempted to make him the latest addition at Anfield for roughly £52m – almost double his current value. However, the deal fell through due to unspecified medical issues, which could be an ongoing issue that hinders his switch to the Premier League.
It may also be a question of Fekir not fitting in with Liverpool’s midfield three, who act more as runners, while the front three have their names on the starting lineup inked in permanent marker.
However, if those in the north West are open to the idea of Philippe Coutinho returning, there is no reason why they should ignore the much cheaper, and possibly more reliable, option that plays at Lyon.
Sadly, injuries have followed the gifted midfielder ever since a cruciate ligament rupture in 2015 kept him on the sidelines for the whole season. Recurring knee problems have followed in late 2016 and early 2018. Complications even occurred during the 2018 World Cup. This could be the sole reason why the undoubtedly talented playmaker and goalscorer hasn’t already been playing in the Premier League for at least a season.
When fit, though, Lyon’s captain is undoubtedly one of the best in Europe and would thrive in the Premier League. This, coupled with his reasonable transfer value, make him a must for any side wanting to make a statement of intent for next season, regardless of the injuries.
Teams will need to act fast – with La Liga mid-table dwellers Real Betis seemingly pursuing a deal. Remarkably, they may end up getting their man – though one can’t help but feel he’s capable of bigger and better things.