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09th Jun 2018

Liverpool hesitate on Nabil Fekir deal due to concerns over knee

Melissa Reddy

Liverpool are hesitating on a £53 million deal to sign Nabil Fekir from Lyon due to concerns over an underlying knee issue.

The Anfield club have offered no comment on the player’s medical and neither have their French counterparts, but every other aspect of the formalities had been ticked without a hitch by late Thursday evening, with an announcement set to follow the next day.

Personal terms had been agreed with the 24-year-old and a fee thrashed out with the Ligue 1 side – confirmed by leading publications in both countries – before Liverpool’s doctors carried out the examination in Paris.

The process had been so advanced that the France international had his introductory interview with the club’s TV channel, pictures of which were leaked on social media on Friday, when doubts around the transfer began with a strong statement from Lyon in the morning ‘categorically denying’ negotiations had taken place.

The short declaration, which had been emailed to journalists and tweeted via their official account, came as a shock. While Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has often played down imminent outgoings during interviews, it is not a usual tactic to circulate such a club communication.

That had been the first signal that there could have been an issue with the findings of the physical assessment, which was the only matter the deal was still subject to.

Fekir suffered a cruciate ligament rupture in his right knee while on international duty in September 2015, requiring arthroscopic surgery to clean a joint in August 2016, before picking up a contusion in the area in February this year.

While those setbacks will have been no secret to Liverpool, the full condition of Fekir’s right knee will have only been evident after the medical.

When the Liverpool Echo reported that a second opinion was sourced on the problem, that confirmed that there was initially enough risk not to immediately proceed with the transfer.

And while they stated that ‘fears were eased’ following the consultation, that the situation hasn’t progressed suggests reservations remain.

Liverpool, Lyon, Fekir and France had all wanted a conclusion as quick as possible and out of the way before Les Bleus departed for the World Cup.

The theory of Les Gones needing to delay the announcement to ensure any transfer fee reflects in the 2018/19 accounts is undercut by the fact that everything had already been in place for both clubs to release the news on Friday.

The Merseysiders could decide that the talents of the playmaker – an exceptional dribbler, a direct threat from set-pieces, an incisive passer, the perfect Philippe Coutinho replacement – is enough to outweigh any injury uncertainty in future. 

Such a decision is not expected to be a snap one, however, as the only piece of information Liverpool have provided is that no announcements on any incomings are likely for a while as things stand.