Last night, at exactly 20.00 hours, Olympique Lyonnais put an end to negotiations with Liverpool over the transfer of Nabil Fekir. The 24-year-old looked all but set to join the Reds, but that £65m deal is now off, with OL releasing an official statement, even.
At the start of this saga, Chelsea were briefly linked as well, and the Blues now have a chance to swoop in and do a Loïc Rémy on him, should we choose to do so.
Olympique Lyonnais’ statement is straightforward and low on detail, stating that they called off the negotiations and that they look forward to counting on Fekir for the upcoming 2018-19 season.
Soon after however, media reports flipped that around, claiming that it was Liverpool who walked away after discovering some issue with the player’s knee during the medical, for which they sought a second opinion.
Meanwhile, OL president Jean-Michel Aulas has a reputation for being one of the toughest negotiators in the world of football, so this could be nothing more than some sort of convoluted negotiating tactic.
Deal for Nabil Fekir not dead. @LFC wanted to restructure terms to reflect issues with medical. Lyon président Jean-Michel Aulas a notoriously tough negotiator, refusing - so far - to budge on agreed deal. Fekir still wants Liverpool, and talks will resume after World Cup— David Maddock (@MaddockMirror) June 9, 2018
Lyon président Aulas had no risk in calling halt to negotiations, as deal wouldn't be completed during World Cup anyway. Talks can be resumed afterwards, though one side must compromise. Fekir wants move and so deal could still be done...but Aulas tough to deal with #LFC— David Maddock (@MaddockMirror) June 9, 2018
At the risk of ruining my Saturday night...believe Liverpool pulled out of the Fekir deal on Friday, after the medical. Lyon then tried to renegotiate terms to push it through, but were unsuccessful.— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) June 9, 2018
Liverpool position as things stand: there will be no deal. That implies Lyon position must change for Fekir to get his move. He still wants @LFC though, and still two months before transfer window closes. So time to negotiate new position.— David Maddock (@MaddockMirror) June 9, 2018
Liverpool had concerns about the quality of the reconstruction of Nabil Fékir's knee after his ACL injury in 2015, and used his medical results to attempt to renegotiate a deal with Lyon, according to tomorrow's L'Équipe.— Get French Football (@GFFN) June 9, 2018
Either way, the knee seems to be central to the situation, with either Liverpool or Lyon looking to renegotiate the agreement because of it, and then calling the whole thing off instead.
Fekir first injured the knee back in 2015, on his debut for France, rupturing as many as three ligaments in his right knee. He was out of action for more than 200 days. Since then, he has had two more injuries related to the knee, one in August 2016, which put him out for 23 days and a knee contusion in February of this year which put him out for 35 days.
All that is known of course. Whatever Liverpool may or may not have discovered in the medical is a concern beyond the current public record, a red flag. And yet, Fekir will be representing France at the World Cup and Lyon are counting on him for next season, so it’s not like the knee is keeping him out actively at the moment. But any team would check twice when £65m is on the line.
There is also a chance that Liverpool are being too strict or too careful and that could give Chelsea an opportunity, just like with Loïc Rémy (who called Liverpool “not very honest”) back in 2014.
“I came for the medical tests and everything was fine and after that they wanted to be sure everything was fine with my heart. They asked for a specialist for the heart and apparently the guy said they did not 100 per cent agree if I could keep going or had to stop football.
”I didn’t understand because they knew before I came. I just told my agent if it is not happening it is because it is not for me. Now I am much better here at Chelsea, I’m very happy to be here and that’s why I say everything happens for a reason.
”There are a lot of players with the same case as me. I don’t know why the people think it is a big thing that can stop me playing football. I was more confused by Liverpool saying that I had medical problem because it is not fair.
”I have seen the best specialist in London and he has told me I can still play so it was not good from them. Even if they don’t want to sign me, okay, but they don’t have to put that in the newspapers because, then, all the other clubs after are afraid.”
-Loïc Rémy; August 2014
It could be a risky move, or it could be one that pays off handsomely. If Chelsea ever were truly interested in signing Fekir, as the rumors last month claimed, here is our chance to steal him from right underneath Liverpool’s nose.