Nabil Fekir has put the blame on an agent and not any medical concerns about his knee for scuppering his dream £53m transfer to Liverpool in the summer of 2018.
The Reds had just played in the Champions League final and were looking to strengthen ahead of challenging again at home and abroad. Fekir had been identified as someone to add depth and competition for places and appeared to be on the verge of completing the switch from Lyon.
But at the last minute everything seemed to crumble. The Frenchman didn’t join Liverpool and instead went to Real Betis a year later for only a fraction of the transfer fee.
At the time of the Liverpool deal collapsing, speculation was rife that the Premier League side pulled out as a result of Fekir’s medical highlighting a potential problem with his knee. But the player has insisted there was no truth to such claims and says it was used as an ‘excuse’.
“It was a dark moment. I saw plenty of things which weren’t true. It was said the knee stopped me going to Liverpool but that wasn’t true,” Fekir, a World Cup winner in 2018, has told The Times.
“I went to Clairefontaine [France’s football centre] and they did the[medical] and the knee was fine. I had a problem with my agent, my adviser,” he revealed.
“It was the agent responsible for the deal not going through. They needed to find a reason for the deal not going through and so they blamed it on the knee. The knee was an excuse.”
Fekir added that he ‘really wanted to go to Liverpool’, especially after meeting Jurgen Klopp.
Speaking in 2019 about the failed transfer, Fekir, who did miss most of the 2015/16 season with a serious knee injury but has never had any further problems, blamed the handling of the saga for putting other clubs off as well. That perhaps explains his much lower transfer fee to Betis.
“What irritated me was that by trying to advance this pseudo-physical problem, it ruled out chances with other clubs that were potentially interested, while there are other players who have experienced the same injury and it did not prevent them from returning to a normal trajectory.”
Fekir’s former agent, Jean-Pierre Bernes, has always insisted that the knee was an issue in the Liverpool transfer collapse, in addition to another agent getting involved late in the day. He accused the player in 2019 of putting on a ‘show’ and of ‘taking people for fools’.