It’s been a very strange and very fraught weekend for Liverpool fans. The timeline is sketchy, details are even sketchier but on Thursday night, it was announced that Liverpool had wrapped up a deal with Nabil Fekir. On Friday morning, Lyon denounced that, and rumours flooded that Fekir had failed his medical. Those rumours were largely debunked, and speculation ran rampant but the announcement of Fekir never came, until finally on Saturday night, Lyon announced that the deal was dead.
So there have been a number of possible theories put forward by various sources and various individuals, as everyone attempts to piece together the information that they have. Certainly, something in Fekir’s medical spooked Liverpool, and it appears that they either backed out of the deal entirely or attempted to renegotiate the deal struck with Lyon to reflect their findings in the medical.
Whether or not the deal is actually dead, nobody seems to know. Whether or not it was Liverpool backing away, Lyon getting shirty with them trying to renegotiate or simply Aulas trying to push the deal back beyond the World Cup, nobody knows. Regardless, it seems that for now, the Fekir deal is off the table – and will be until at least the French team’s departure from Russia.
Liverpool fans took the news well, as you might expect. In amongst the incessant screaming, however, there has been room for a lot of thoughtful and interesting discussion. So here’s my take – trust Michael Edwards. He’s smarter than us.
The first thing to note about Michael Edwards is that he has earned our trust. His scouting has been absolutely absurd, bringing the likes of Bobby Firmino, Mo Salah, Andy Robertson, Virgil Van Dijk, Naby Keita and most recently Fabinho to the club. Everyone Edwards touches, and everyone he brings to Liverpool, seems to turn to gold.
This is a man who managed to resurrect a sticky deal for Virgil Van Dijk, the man who managed to get a sensational deal for Mo Salah by being patient, who managed to pull a fast one on everyone by getting Fabinho done under the radar, AND the one who managed to not only secure a superb deal for Naby Keita, but did it right under the nose of the mad tyrant Rangnick. Edwards has previous dealing with the likes of Aulas, and Liverpool have always got their man, even if it has taken a bit of patience.
Therefore, the first thing I want to note is that if this deal has fallen apart, it’s because Edwards has allowed it to. What I mean by that is that if Liverpool don’t sign Nabil Fekir this summer – and that’s still very much up in the air no matter how much hot air Lyon and Aulas blow – then it’s because Liverpool have made the decision not to buy him. Whether for medical or financial reasons – or a combination of the two – Liverpool have made a decision that Fekir wasn’t worth the risk at the price being listed. Whether or not that means we’ll go back for him and try to negotiate again remains to be seen.
But Edwards still holds the cards in this negotiation. Fekir wants the move, he only has two years left on his contract so realistically Aulas needs to move him on this summer, and there don’t seem to be any other major bidders. It’s hard to see any entering the picture with suggestions of a dodgy knee flooding the market. If nothing else, it’s an effective way for Liverpool to keep other clubs at arm’s length from Fekir whilst they make their decisions.
The other big thing to note here is that Fekir isn’t Messi. He isn’t Ronaldo. What he is, is a damn good player, a highly explosive, extremely talented and versatile attacking forward, fresh off the back of a stonking season at Lyon. He’s probably the best Coutinho replacement on the market and if we can get the deal done for £50m or less then that’s a big win.
However, he’s not irreplaceable. There is an absolute wealth of insanely talented, versatile young forwards across Europe right now, and if Liverpool cannot get the Fekir deal done then there’s absolutely no reason to believe that they can’t simply spend more money on a different player. Naming names isn’t exactly my strongest area, but this article from Alex Barilaro is a fantastic example of some of the brilliant young players out there, not to mention the likes of Draxler, Lemar and more that Liverpool have been linked with. Moreover, if the Reds don’t want another direct Coutinho replacement, there are more quality central midfielders available to link the play, as well as the wingers ahead of them.
And that’s just the big names. Edwards has found a way to time and again not just pick great players, but pick the right players, and often has had back-ups for his back-ups. Sadio Mane and Mo Salah were both choices we made because other players and other deals didn’t come off, and now they’re two of the best players in Europe.
Edwards and Klopp have a fantastic working relationship and understand the other’s role perfectly. Edwards knows what Klopp needs and he knows what Klopp can do with the talent that he puts in front of him. The laptop guru knows what he’s doing. And we need to start trusting him.
There are a lot of assumptions going on about what happened to collapse the Fekir deal – if indeed it has collapsed. And there’s nothing wrong with that, it makes a lot of sense for Liverpool fans to wildly speculate given that we’ve heard absolutely nothing from any reliable sources since Lyon dropped their message.
But one thing we can’t do is start turning on the club now. We can’t keep assuming that every single transfer deal that collapses is our fault. That we’ve fucked it up. That it’s a travesty. That FSG Out. That we’re a joke of a club. The level of overreaction is absolutely painful when for all we know – and it’s probably as likely as not – that Liverpool made an intelligent decision. And that’s even assuming the deal has collapsed. Again, there is so little confirmed information that everyone is speculating – including the journalists who have spoken on the subject.
The person with all of the info is Michael Edwards. He’s the man at the heart of the storm, dictating Liverpool’s transfer policy, weighing up all of the relevant factors. If he thinks, and Klopp think, given Fekir’s injury history and the results of his medical that it’s too much of a risk then we should back off. If they think it’s worth the risk but not at the current price then they are right to try and knock Lyon down on price.
And of course, if the deal does collapse, then Edwards is the man with the information to decide who is next. Fekir is not like Van Dijk or Keita, in the sense that isn’t a transcendent, one of a kind talent who cannot be matched or replicated. VVD was comfortably the best possible option in the market to plug a specific gap in our defence, and Keita is probably the most talented midfielder in Europe, with the potential to be the best one too. Fekir is dead, dead good, but he’s not that good.
Trust in Michael Edwards, laptop guru and bringer of quality players. He’s smarter than us, and he has all of the facts.