By Biggies Malls – @MoMoneyMoSalah
Will it? Won’t it? Is it on or off? Did he fail a medical? Or are we just concerned that his knees might not be able to cope with ‘gegenpressing’ in the Premier League? Haggling over instalments or wanting to offset astronomical insurance premiums? If you haven’t guessed already, I’m talking about the Nabil Fékir to Liverpool FC ‘saga’.
The smoke, mirrors and rumours are flying about so wildly that it’s hard for even the most ‘in the know’ transfer analysts to keep up with what is happening – and that seems to be exactly what Jean-Michel Aulas wants.
So, is it all worth it? Not the signing itself – I think 90% of Liverpool fans are in agreement that bringin-in Fékir would be an excellent piece of business.
The constant refreshing and following of French journalists on Twitter, the raising and dashing of hopes off the back of the latest hints from those ‘in the know’, the detailed deconstruction and analysis of the latest soundbite from Lyon’s infamous CEO.
Why stress over something that we, as fans, cannot control?
He’d be a great signing, yes. I won’t go into detail over why – thousands of word have already been written on that particular subject.
But would it be a disaster if we didn’t sign the Frenchman? Personally, I don’t think it would be, and here’s a few reasons why:
Strengthening weak(er) areas
Getting a bona fide defensive midfielder and sorting out the goalkeeping situation were both far more critical to our progress than signing Fékir in my opinion.
Both of those boxes have been ticked with the respective arrivals of Brazilian duo Fabinho and Alisson Becker – one of those signings has a bonus knock-on effect. More on that later.
Honestly, the Premier League has no idea what is about to hit it.
Keita’s ability to win back possession, travel from deep with the ball and play a killer final pass is going to shock the opposition.
He glides across the pitch and his low centre of gravity and pure unbridled tenaciousness will add an extra dimension to our all round game.
Solutions from within
Firstly, clichés like “X will be like a new signing” wind me up as much as the next fan. That being said, we do have a couple of options in our squad already if Fékir doesn’t arrive.
Adam Lallana divides opinion – clearly talented, he gets criticism for his end product (or lack thereof) and his injury record. Like or not though, Klopp loves him.
He starts the press, is genuinely two footed and is great in tight areas. When fit, he offers something to the team.
On the subject of fitness issues, another victim of the LFC injury curse is Daniel Sturridge – because of it he’s lost a yard or two of pace, we can all agree on that.
That’s why, in my humble opinion, it makes sense to convert him from an out-and-out striker to a No. 10.
Great in tight spaces, skilful, excellent final ball, he seems to have already built up a good little understanding with Keita – like Lallana, however, this comes with the huge caveat of him actually managing to stay fit.
Another positional tweak involves the member of our deadly front-three who was most overlooked last season, Sadio Mané.
A sluggish start to the season following his switch to the left flank to accommodate Mo Salah saw criticism of his game for the first time in his short Liverpool career.
However, he seemed to come out of his slump when Philippe Coutinho downed-tools (hello mysterious back injury) and then left for Barcelona.
Tucking inside more, dropping deeper and being more creative, the Senegal international clicked back into top gear toward the business end of the season – perfect timing, as far as we were concerned.
Klopp tweaked how Mané, and the team in general, played and it worked – playing a midfield three of Fabinho, Keita and Henderson would allow Mané to carry on this alternative role and the energy of Robertson from left back still gives us an option wide-left when the winger tucks inside.
Which brings me back to my earlier point – the Fabinho signing has another nice little by-product, solidifying the middle of the pitch and giving extra freedom to our fullbacks (as per Robertson above) and also Henderson / Gini to go forward.
The latter two are better when given slightly more freedom, so with Keita, the front three and the full backs pushing on, we shouldn’t be lacking in our attacking play, and that’s without even including the Champions League assist king himself, James Milner!
The younger generation
Another option would be to promote from within and give youth a chance – step up Curtis Jones.
We want the kids coming through to be given a chance and Curtis looks a special prospect, one of the more promising of a talented-looking bunch.
Again, I’m not going to go into great detail here about his obvious talents, but Klopp trusted Trent Alexander-Arnold to step-up and has been repaid for showing his faith in him.
After Jones’ excellent showings so far in pre-season, we could well see him do the same with the 17-year old.
So it begs the question – do we really need to buy a specialised No. 10?
Obviously Klopp thinks so, otherwise we wouldn’t have gone for Fékir in the first place.
My point is, with all the above options and our deadly front three (who can create something from nothing), are we really that desperate?
Truthfully, I don’t think he has enough space in his squad to guarantee that the front three and Fékir will play every week even if we do sign him, so if it has to wait until January, does it really matter?
I concede that some of these points may seem to be a bit of a stretch for some, but it shows that we have options – even more so with Xherdan Shaqiri and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (when he is fit again.)
In short, I really don’t think it’s the end of the world if we don’t sign Fékir this summer – we’ve had a great transfer window so far, so let’s not get our collective panties in a bunch if we miss out on him.