Former Lyon midfielder Nabil Fekir looked set to make a £53m move to Liverpool back in 2018 before the deal fell apart at the 11th hour – and the Frenchman has spoken about the real reason why the move was scuppered
Nabil Fekir has opened up on his failed £53m move to Liverpool back in 2018 after seeing his transfer collapse at the last moment.
The Reds were in the middle of a midfield revamp after signing Fabinho from Monaco as well as striking a deal to prise Naby Keita from RB Leipzig.
Fekir was next on Jurgen Klopp’s wishlist to strengthen his squad at Anfield.
However, despite a deal seeming to be all but done, Liverpool pulled the plug on the agreement for the French international, leaving the 28-year-old stranded at Lyon.
Now, three years on from the move collapsing, Fekir has lifted the lid on the doomed switch – revealing that an issue with his agent was the reason that the deal wasn’t concluded.
“It was a dark moment,” Fekir told The Times.
“I saw plenty of things which weren’t true. It was said the knee stopped me going to Liverpool but that wasn’t true.
“I went to Clairefontaine [France’s football centre near Paris], and they did all the proof [medical] and the knee was fine.
“I had a problem with my agent, my adviser. It was the agent [who was] responsible for the deal not going through.
Fekir went on to state his admiration for Klopp and insisted meeting the German only strengthened his desire to join the Merseyside club.
“Of course I was disappointed not to go to Liverpool, very disappointed because Liverpool are a great club,” he said.
“I met the coach, Jurgen Klopp, and it went well. After meeting him, I wanted to join Liverpool even more. He’s a good person.
“It was really difficult to deal with as I really wanted to go to Liverpool. It was a moment that was not easy for me.”
Despite Fekir’s attempts to blame his former representative, the agent in question, Jean-Pierre Bernè, played down Fekir’s claims.
He insists that a combination of a knee injury and the involvement of another agent which led to the deal being scuppered.
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After the move fell through, Fekir remained at Lyon for one more year before linking up with current club Betis for £17.7m – a vastly reduced fee from the mammoth sum Liverpool had sanctioned to secure his signature.
Liverpool’s interest was sparked by Fekir’s stunning form in Lyon’s 2017/18 Ligue 1 season.
The attacking midfielder netted 18 league goals in just 30 games before going on to lift the World Cup with the French national team that same summer.
Liverpool’s failure to strike a deal for Fekir didn’t stop them from kicking on under Klopp that year.
The Reds did manage to tie up further deals for goalkeeper Alisson Becker and Xherdan Shaqiri as they came close to ending their agonising Premier League drought by finishing second.
They did, however, taste European success as Klopp led them to their sixth European Cup by winning the Champions League at Tottenham’s expense in the final.
The thought of Fekir linking up with Liverpool’s deadly front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino would have been an enticing prospect.
But Fekir has put that element of ‘what if?’ behind him in La Liga.
“I was sad about Liverpool but I’m OK now,” he added.
“Betis are a family club. I was very welcomed here, and my family too. They put everything in place to make sure players feel comfortable. Betis are a club with a lot of history, fantastic fans.”