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Nabil Fekir’s move from Lyon to Liverpool falls through

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LYON, France (AP) — France forward Nabil Fekir’s move from Lyon to Champions League runner-up Liverpool fell through on Saturday.

Lyon said in a brief statement it decided to “end negotiations.”

The 24-year-old Fekir reportedly had his medical with a view to a move for $77 million, plus eventual bonuses.

Even though Lyon said joining Liverpool was Fekir’s “priority,” the seven-time French champion was “delighted” to count on him for next season.

Fekir had a fine season, scoring 18 league goals as Lyon finished third to qualify for the Champions League playoffs.

A product of Lyon’s successful youth academy, the skillful forward has 58 goals in 161 games for Lyon. He is in France’s World Cup squad.

How would Liverpool line up with Fekir? And can they catch Man City?

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Liverpool’s attack has not been questioned much, and for good reason, but the addition of Nabil Fekir asks two big questions.

  1. Is his playmaking ability in the center of the park, combined with Fabinho and Naby Keita behind him, enough to push Liverpool to Manchester City’s level?
  2. Is he enough to lead Jurgen Klopp to abandon a 4-3-3 that served him so following the sale of Philippe Coutinho?

First things first, Fekir is a great get. Even coming off a career year that begs a comparison to Liverpool selling high on Coutinho, this is a nice add for the Reds.

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Fekir brings a silky skill set and a very good 85 percent pass completion rate given he plays in an advanced part of the pitch and takes a lot of audacious chances will the ball. Eighteen league goals and eight assists are no jokes, either.

He was, however, deployed in a manner inconsistent with how Jurgen Klopp uses his midfielders in a 4-3-3. Fekir played a lot in the 4-2-3-1, a formation Klopp stopped using after the sale of Philippe Coutinho.

In fact, when Lyon boss Bruno Génésio opted for a 4-3-3, it was usually because Fekir was injured or unavailable. Génésio used Fekir once as a right wing in the 4-3-3, and twice as a right central midfielder in an inverted triangle. One time, they beat PSG. Conversely, they also lost to Bordeaux.

Klopp could easily opt to go back to a 4-2-3-1, especially with more safety in defensive midfield thanks to the arrivals of Fabinho and Naby Keita (It’s also worth noting that the trio combined for 23 yellow cards and two red cards last season, so Liverpool could set some sort of record there).

Liverpool used a 4-3-3 in all four of their meetings with Man City last season, the only loss coming when the Reds had 10 men. City used a 4-3-3 twice against Liverpool, a 3-1-4-2 in the 5-0 win, an a 3-5-2 when chasing the second leg of the UEFA Champions League tie.

The Reds had so much success in the 4-3-3 late last season, and especially against City, even if the formation was demanded largely due to injury. Klopp will probably use both, but perhaps it’s best to expect a lot more 4-2-3-1.

And it would probably look like this:

— Karius —

— Alexander-Arnold — Matip — Van Dijk — Robertson —

— Fabinho — Keita —

— Salah — Fekir — Mane —

— Firmino —

That is a very good lineup, and it’s unreasonable to think any of the players take a dramatic step back next season.

But going to a 4-3-3 with Fekir in the center of the park is not a formation I’d hazard against Man City. And using Fekir on the wing means benching Sadio Mane (likely to use Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Keita on top of Fabinho).

As good as Man City was last season, it’s difficult to believe they are going to find another 100-point season. Bounces alone should knock them down to 95. Can the Reds be 15-20 points better?

It’s possible, sure, but don’t forget that City is going to be improved by familiarity with the system alone (not to mention additions like (probably) Riyad Mahrez).

Is it August yet? Oh yeah, we’ve got a World Cup first.

Report: Liverpool, Lyon agree $77m fee for French wizard Fekir

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Liverpool’s links with Nabil Fekir are developing into a move, with a medical expected at Anfield by Friday.

L’Equipe is reporting that Lyon and Liverpool have agreed an approximately $77 million deal for the French attacker who turns 25 just after the World Cup.

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Fekir has been with Lyon since 2011, breaking into the first team in 2013 and recording 57 goals and 37 assists in 153 appearances with the club.

His 18-goal, 7-assist run in Ligue 1’s 2017-18 campaign was his best since recording 13 and 12 in 2014-15.

Fekir is very versatile, able to play as a center forward, attacking midfielder, and on either wing, though he’s been most prolific as at the front of a midfield in a 4-2-3-1.

A move would call into question Fekir’s participation in Saturday’s France friendly against the United States, Les Bleus’ final warm-up for Russia.

Ligue 1: Monaco, Lyon qualify for UCL; Weah’s first start for PSG

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PARIS (AP) — Memphis Depay scored a hat trick as Lyon came from behind to beat Nice 3-2 and qualify for the Champions League at the expense of Marseille in the French league on Saturday.

Lyon, which had a one-point lead over Marseille ahead of the last round, kept its lead intact and finished in third place behind Paris Saint-Germain and deposed champion Monaco. The first three teams in the French league qualified for the Champions League.

“Lots of joy tonight, everybody was very focused and motivated,” said Lyon forward Nabil Fekir, who is widely expected to leave the club this summer. “It caps an exceptional season.”

Alassane Plea scored Nice’s goals.

Depay scored all three goals in the second half.

Nice coach Lucien Favre confirmed he will leave the club in the offseason.


After losing the Europa League final to Atletico Madrid on Wednesday, Marseille missed out on the Champions League for the second time despite beating Amiens 2-1.

“We had a superb season but our efforts did not pay off,” Marseille top striker Florian Thauvin said.

Marseille ended fourth and will play the Europa League next season alongside Rennes and Bordeaux.


Monaco won at Troyes 3-0 and finished runner-up, 13 points behind PSG, which drew at Caen 0-0. The goalless draw guaranteed Caen stayed in the topflight while Troyes was demoted to the second division.

Monaco needed just one point to qualify for the Champions League but made sure it finished runner-up with a win. The Principality side was in complete control as Rony Lopes scored twice and Jordi Mboula sealed Troyes’ fate in added time.

Troyes finished 19th and joined last-place Metz in the second division.

Toulouse, which beat Guingamp 2-1, will have to win a playoff against a second-division club to remain in the topflight.

Elsewhere, Italian coach Claudio Ranieri won his last game in charge of mid-table Nantes, 1-0 over Strasbourg.


In the absence of Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe, PSG coach Unai Emery gave Timothy Weah — George Weah’s 18-year-old son — his first start in Caen.

Caen finished the season with only 27 goals, the worst total since Arles-Avignon was demoted with 21 in 2011.

Europa League final preview: Greizmann goes home

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Atletico Madrid doesn’t need to win Europa League Final to make the UEFA Champions League, but Marseille might.

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The two tangle Wednesday in Lyon, with Atleti’s Antoine Griezmann returning to France to face one of the biggest clubs in Ligue 1.

And there are two specific French strikers who may make the difference in the final, won last season by Manchester United. Atleti won the UEL in 2010 and 2012, and a French team has never won the tournament (Marseille is a two-time finalist).

Griezmann will be the key for Atletihas a goal or an assist in all but one Europa League match this season, and his 27 goals and 15 assists on the season on par with most of his better years despite playing in fewer matches.

Marseille’s Florian Thauvin was a bust under Steve McClaren at Newcastle, but has fulfilled every bit of his promise this season with OM after a terrific return to Ligue 1 last season.

Atleti has allowed a miserly 20 goals in league play this season, and just 13 more in 20 other matches. Goalkeeper Jan Oblak has been especially sensational in the tournament.

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