Caislin Boyle takes an in-depth look at the Nabil Fekir saga and delves into why the Reds didn’t sign the Frenchman despite having a need for a brand new no.10.
As deadline day drew to a close, it was a familiar feeling for Liverpool fans – serenity. Only once during Jürgen Klopp’s tenure have we secured a permanent transfer on deadline day, and that was last year for Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain.
Therefore, with the freedom of thought afforded by no major transfer activity, now is the time to reflect upon the window.
It’s been a huge success, of that there is no doubt. However, there is an interesting narrative that I wish to explore – why did we choose not to resurrect the Nabil Fekir deal?
Speculation was rife as to why the deal failed in the first instance, with many pointing to previous medical issues as the clear reason. With no confirmation from either club, this still appears the most viable reason. However, Fekir continued to feature as a substitute for France during their World Cup win, which does suggest that his knee issue is managed.
Upon the culmination of the World Cup, there was a school of thought amongst many fans that we would return for the Frenchman – after all, the extent of Fekir’s knee issue remained open to conjecture, as both clubs failed to comment on why the deal broke down.
Yet, there was no further approach.
I believe that the club’s stance is founded upon the transfer business we had set about doing between the date that the Fekir deal died (9th June), and the end of the World Cup (15th July).
Medical concerns were not the sole reason that we didn’t go back in for Fekir. The fact that the deal was so close to completion has instilled a widely-held belief that we were bound to return for the Frenchman, but changing circumstances have dictated otherwise.
If we assess what happened between the 9th June and 15th July, we can see that we signed one player (Xherdan Shaqiri), and had a simmering interest in another (Alisson Becker). Our interest in Alisson culminated in signing the player a mere five days after the World Cup ended.
I believe that this sequence of events put the nail in the coffin of the Fekir deal. Firstly, signing Shaqiri added a player with tangible similarities to Fekir to the squad. Shaqiri is not superior to Fekir, but his frugal fee and promising start have lessened the urgency to sign the Lyon player.
Secondly, paying the then world record for goalkeeper Alisson surely put a dent in the disposable finances. The money used to buy Alisson may have been taken from reserves previously intended to finance the Fekir deal.
There is also the argument that resolving the long-standing keeper issue reduces the need for us to overload with attacking talent. We obviously want the best talent in our ranks, but I think that the club may have chosen to sign Alisson over Fekir and to prioritise defence over attack.
It is hard to know the exact reasons why, as the club are unlikely to make any comment. The hierarchy didn’t comment when they called off the deal, and are not going change tack now. So all we can do is hypothesise as to why we didn’t go back in for Fekir, with the pathway unaffected by any real interest from elsewhere.
The medical concerns are clearly not without foundation, but there is surely more to it.
The transfer window has been an unequivocal success, one of our best in years (made all the sweeter by the failures of our rivals). Yet there will always be an enigmatic air surrounding the conclusion of our Fekir interest.
Thankfully, however, this mystery should have no impact upon a potentially phenomenal season. On Sunday we take on West Ham with a much superior squad and I can’t wait.