Thursday, January 28, 2021

Ernesto Valverde targets Lyon playmaker as an alternative to Philippe Coutinho

Barcelona is reportedly lining up a bid for Olympique Lyon playmaker Nabil Fekir, as an alternative to Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho.

The 24-year-old has been in exceptional form for the Ligue 1 side, scoring 11 goals in just 11 games making up for the absence of departed Alexandre Lacazette. However, with the Frenchman’s admiration of the Camp Nou side, Barcelona’s sporting director Robert Fernandez was there watching Nabil Fekir play against Everton in October.

According to Marca, the Catalans have stepped up their interest in the 24-year-old attacker and with both Arsenal and Real Madrid also in tow, things could get interesting. For Barcelona however, with Jurgen Klopp’s staunch stance on not selling Philippe Coutinho, Fekir would be the closest like-for-like replacement.

With a sensational 2014/15 season, Nabil Fekir announced himself to the world, with 13 goals and nine assists, shocking both the Ligue 1 and Europe. However, since then injuries and inconsistency have been his downfall, but this season could prove to be his best yet. Having already scored 11 goals in just 11 games so far this season, the Frenchman has already outdone the likes of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

His lethal left foot does make him very valuable, but that’s not why Barcelona really wants him. Nabil Fekir’s versatility to operate across the front line and his ability to dictate tempo and find space makes him the perfect replacement for the aging and irreplaceable Andres Iniesta.

The Frenchman even spoke about the Camp Nou side a year ago when he was recovering from a cruciate ligament injury, saying “In my head, I have a lot of dreams. I’m not going to talk about them straight away. For a start, I want to get back on the pitch, to be able to give my best for Lyon and then to join a big club. That’s my goal.

“My favourite club is Barca. But a lot of work needs to be done — I’m aware of that.”

Author’s take:

Many have compared the Algerian descent, French international Nabil Fekir to another Algerian descent French international who went on to win both the 1998 World Cup and the 1998 Balon d’Or. However, while he is happy at Lyon right now, there will come a point when Fekir decides to leave in the near future and to have not one but three potential top-class destinations make his decision very hard.

But with his current form, it’s very easy to look into the future and see the 24-year-old thriving where ever he joins.


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