Is this why Liverpool’s Fekir deal fell through?

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Jack Hallows breaks down why an ACL injury sustained back in 2015 could be the cause of Nabil Fekir’s Liverpool move breaking down over the weekend. 

I’m still not 100% sure of what’s happened with the break down of Nabil Fekir’s proposed move to Liverpool but it seems a knee-injury sustained back in 2015 could have something to do with it.

Liverpool and Lyon had previously been thought to have agreed on a £50m deal for the Frenchman but details that emerged during his medical on Friday resulted in Liverpool seeking a second opinion and taking a step back to evaluate the situation.

A statement on Lyon’s official club site claimed on Saturday evening that they had “put an end” to negotiations with the Reds due to our transfer team trying to re-negotiate the price of the deal. This represents an incredible u-turn after Fekir was rumoured to have even “undergone media duties in the Liverpool strip” for an LFCTV announcement video.

So what about this ‘knee-issue’ then?

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Fekir was forced to miss practically an entire season a couple of years ago after rupturing his ACL back in 2015, a nasty injury which generally requires a lay-off ranging between seven to twelve months depending on the individual.

For those of you who don’t know, an ACL injury can be fixed in a couple of different ways.

The first, an autograft, requires taking tissue from tendons in the leg – generally the hamstring and/or the patella. The second, an allograft, is performed by taking tissue from a donor’s leg tendons.

Fail rate in ACL grafts for the general population are quite low, sitting at just 5%, which isn’t a high rate at all, however, the risk of a professional sportsman re-tearing their anterior cruciate ligament is most certainly higher. Especially an athlete involved in a sport like football which requires large amounts of twisting, lateral movement and at times excessive knee extension.

The main issue, however, lies in the type of graft that Fekir had performed on his knee.

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It is believed by many in the media that Fekir underwent an allograft surgery – the graft taken from a donor’s leg tissue – and according to an article by Dr. David Geier, allograft patients are 4.69 times as likely to re-tear their Cruciate Ligament than those who have an autograft performed.

This is backed by an article on the Canberra Orthopaedics website (yes, I am writing this from Australia) detailing a study done on 2683 subjects, claiming that the odds of an ACL re-tear were “5.2 times greater for an allograft compared with a bone-patella tendon-bone autograft.”

A small sample size yes but at least it seems the research is consistent.

When you think about the situation with a level head, paying £50m for a player who holds a high risk of re-injuring his Anterior Cruciate Ligament, potentially sidelining him for an entire year, certainly represents a risk no matter who the interested club is.

When you then take into account the brand of football that Liverpool play which requires phenomenal fitness, incredible intensity and a heavy element of physicality in the tackle, you can understand why Liverpool sought a second opinion.

In fact, Liverpool even have a perfect example of the effects of an ACL injury in their squad. Danny Ings’ initial knee injury suffered just days after Klopp’s initial appointment was a cruciate tear that saw him lose out on the better part of two years of his career.

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Put him on the wages Fekir would’ve commanded (rumoured to be £140k/week) and add an extra £40m onto the transfer fee Liverpool shelled out for him and I doubt they’d have been so patient.

What is interesting, however, is that Fekir’s injury record since suffering the ACL tear isn’t overly worrying in the slightest. The Frenchman missed just 15 Ligue 1 games across the entire 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons, making 88 appearances in all competitions for Lyon and scoring 37 goals.

He also featured a further seven times for France’s national side.

Whether this transfer deal is entirely dead remains to be seen and the club could well go back for Fekir once France exit the World Cup – or after the competition if Les Bleus make the final.

For now, however, we’re just going to have to be patient.

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