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Lyon’s Nabil Fekir completes bargain transfer to Real Betis

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One year ago, Lyon forward Nabil Fekir was reportedly on the brink of a move to Liverpool from somewhere in the vicinity of $65 million. Now, he’s gone for around a third of that price.

Fekir has reportedly completed a transfer to Spanish side Real Betis for a reported $22 million plus add-ons, proving just how far a contract dispute and bad knee can torpedo a player’s value on the open market.

The 26-year-old came incredibly close to a switch to Anfield last summer worth somewhere in the vicinity of $65, with his now ex-agent stating that Fekir had even completed photos in a Liverpool jersey and passed a medical. Yet he never completed the transfer, as the Reds pulled out of the deal at the last minute for unknown reasons, thought to be potentially related to lingering effects from an ACL tear suffered early in the 2015/16 season.

Now, with one year left on his Lyon contract and a refusal to sign a new deal, the French club had no choice but to find a suitor, leaving Real Betis in a solid negotiating position and Lyon in no position to haggle.

The reports state Fekir’s cut-rate deal does come with a bit of a bright side for Lyon, as the add-ons are reportedly significant – up to $12 million worth – and the Ligue 1 side maintains a sell-on clause of around 20% should Fekir be moved by Betis. Still, the loss in value is significant from one summer to the next.

A dip in form could also be a contributing factor in the drop in value. While it’s not like the French international put up bad numbers last season – nine goals and seven assists to his name in 29 Ligue 1 appearances – it represented a serious step back from the 18 goals he racked up two seasons ago before piquing Liverpool’s interest.

For Betis, Fekir’s arrival represents an important replacement for Giovani Lo Celso who is rumored to be on his way out, with interest from Tottenham.

Hegerberg hat-trick leads Lyon to women’s Champions League title

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Lyon won its fourth straight women’s Champions League title behind a hat-trick from defending Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg as they topped Barcelona 4-1 in Budapest.

The game got out of hand early, as Lyon bagged all four of its scores in the opening half-hour, cruising from that point on. German international Dzsenifer Marozsan opened the scoring just five minutes in, and Hegerberg took over from there, striking twice in the opening 20 minutes before a 30th minute goal sealed the deal.

Marozsan’s goal was an emotional one, a crowd favorite being from the city originally. The opener was assisted on a cross from Shanice van de Sanden, who picked up the first two assists in a brilliant supporting role from the start.

The matchup was billed as a face-off between Hegerberg and Barcelona forward Lieke Martens – winner of the 2017 FIFA Women’s Player of the Year award before the Ballon d’Or was introduced – but it was no contest as Martens missed a 68th minute effort, forced to wait until the 89th minute to provide her contribution, an assist on the consolation goal by Asisat Oshoala. England striker Toni Duggan also featured in the match for Barcelona, but she missed a chance in the opening minutes for Barcelona before Lyon took control, and Duggan was withdrawn with 20 minutes to go.

Barcelona’s project is still a model for others around Europe, having only introduced its women’s side in 2015 and building a solid base, but the gulf in talent was exposed in Budapest Saturday in their first European final. Lyon, meanwhile, hasn’t lost a competitive match in nearly a year, falling to Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 in last year’s Coupe de France Feminine final.

Lyon strengthens Champions League place with win over Angers

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Olympique Lyonnais is one step closer to a spot in next year’s Champions League after topping Angers 2-1 on Friday thanks to first-half goals by Memphis Depay and Martin Terrier.

Depay opened the scoring just 14 minutes in with his seventh goal of the Ligue 1 season, breaking away thanks to an incredible long-ball up the field from 20-year-old French youth international Houssem Aouar. Depayevaded a last-ditch tackle by Mateo Pavlovic and scored one-on-one with Angers goalkeeper Ludovic Butelle. It marked the Dutchman’s first goal since a 5-1 win over Toulouse in early March, and just his second league tally since mid-November.

With six minutes to go until halftime, Lyon struck again as Aouar provided yet another wonderful assist, threading a ball down the middle from the halfway line that a streaking Terrier connected with after splitting the defensive unit. That left the 22-year-old alone with Butelle and he also finished the breakaway chance.

The two assists for Aouar mark his first multi-assist match of the season and sees his assist total move to five on the league campaign to go along with his seven goals. The youngster has cooled off since his blistering start to the year where he scored five goals in an eight-match span through October and November. Still, he has been a vital part of the Lyon squad this season, having racked up 2,541 Ligue 1 minutes out of a possible 2,970.

The win strengthens Lyon’s position in third place in the Ligue 1 table, moving them to 59 points, six ahead of fourth-placed St. Etienne and eight above fifth-placed Marseille. It would be the club’s second season in a row in the Champions League, having reached the Round of 16 this time around before elimination at the hands of Barcelona.

Lyon exec claims club working on Fekir extension

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Olympique Lyonnais’ outspoken club president Jean-Michel Aulas has gone on record to claim the club has “made some advances” with regards to a contract extension for attacker Nabil Fekir.

The 25-year-old has been a favorite of Premier League transfer rumors for a good two years now, but Aulas says they are working hard to keep the Lyon captain at his hometown club.

“We have made some advances in Fekir’s contract extension,” Aulas said according to The Mirror . “We are discussing it and soon I’ll have to see Nabil, we aren’t in the final stages but in any case we have advanced.”

Fekir scored 18 goals last season in Ligue 1 play, prompting heavy rumors of a move to England, with Liverpool the most widely reported destination. Things are never easy with Aulas, however, and a deal was never completed. Fekir started this season slowly, prompting many fans to claim he was a one-hit-wonder, but he has picked up the goalscoring pace of late, with six goals in his last nine matches, including the winner in Friday’s 2-1 victory over Guingamp.

He also has three goals in five Champions League appearances this season, and a big test upcoming as Lyon matches up with Barcelona in the Round of 16 next week. A surprise win in that two-legged affair would boost Lyon’s chances of retaining Fekir tremendously as it could convince him the club is on its way up. They currently sit third with PSG still dominating the league by a mile.

Still, it’s also highly possible that Aulas is exaggerating the club’s efforts to re-sign Fekir to put pressure on others who may look to pry him away this summer. A possible extension in the works could force clubs to pony up extra cash in the hopes of persuading him to turn Lyon down. Chelsea has been linked to Fekir this offseason with rumors of Eden Hazard‘s exit, and Liverpool’s chase last summer will likely attach them to his name this coming window as well.

PSG falls to Lyon in first Ligue 1 defeat of the season

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Moussa Dembele and Nebil Fekir scored bracketing halftime to secure a 2-1 comeback victory for Lyon over Paris Saint-Germain, dooming the Parisians to the club’s first defeat of the Ligue 1 season.

Angel Di Maria put PSG up just seven minutes into the match after Julian Draxler won the ball off Houssem Aouar in the attacking third and threaded across to his Argentinian teammate to slot home. That was it for the visitors at Parc Olympique Lyonnais, however, as PSG – without injured Neymar – racked up nine shots on target but Anthony Lopes was up to the task.

Former Fulham youth product Dembele was the main danger man for the hosts, and he struck just past the half-hour mark with a towering header, beating goalkeeper Alphonse Areola to Leo Dubois’s cross and bulldozing the ball into the back of the net.

After the break, he then won a penalty as he burst down the left edge of the penalty area, putting Thiago Silva on roller skates with stepovers and directional changes before the Brazilian blocked him off with a knee. Fekir stepped up to take and sent Areola the wrong way, putting Lyon in front for good.

Without Neymar, PSG struggled to create significant chances in the attack. More specifically, PSG completed just seven of 21 take-ons, a specialty of Neymar’s on the ball. They also connected on just three of 20 crosses, and Di Maria was the only PSG player to create more than two chances.

Prior to the loss, PSG had dropped just four total points all league season, with draws at both Strasbourg and Bordeaux. Their home form still remains perfect with 11 wins in 11.