The more we know about Nabil Fekir’s aborted transfer to Liverpool, the more farcical the whole affair reveals itself to have been.
The then-Lyon star was seen at the time as some combination of a replacement for the departed Philippe Coutinho’s playmaking and a backup/alternative to Roberto Firmino’s dynamism in the Reds attack as the club sought to capitalize on their strong 2017-18 campaign.
Much ink has already been spilt on the reasons behind transfer’s 11th hour collapse, mooted at the time to have been everything from a failed last minute medical to a simple “change of heart” from the Reds.
However, with the player and his agent, Jean-Pierre Bernes parting ways in the fallout from the botched move, more details have come to light suggesting that accepted narrative of the saga might have actually been quite charitable to some of the key parties involved.
Speaking with Canal+ recently, Bernes confirmed in his retelling of the transfer timeline that the deal was as good as done after extensive hard work by both sides:
“Nabil was Liverpool’s priority,” the agent said. “I worked for four months with the Liverpool representatives, with [Liverpool manager] Jurgen Klopp, [Lyon President] Jean-Michel Aulas, everything was ready.
”Nabil was already aware of his future contract, which would have seen him earn around €45m (£40m) over five years.
”And on the day that the contract was supposed to be signed, at Rambouillet, we saw a lawyer and Nabil’s brother-in-law arrive who said: ‘Stop everything, discussions have to start all over again.’
While it is not uncommon for seemingly unrelated third parties with dodgy rationales to attempt to insert themselves into transfers, Bernes claimed that things were particularly chaotic on this occasion, admitting that the last-minute interjection was, “surreal. We thought that we were in a Walt Disney film.”
Bernes did admit that Fekir’s history of knee injuries were a factor in discouraging the Reds from sealing the deal, but said that the shambolic nature of the final negotiations was the final straw:
”There were two elements,” he continued, explaining why the transfer failed. “The player’s medical was negative and the second element was that when you want to sign for a big club like Liverpool, you need a certain attitude.
”When the Liverpool guys witnessed this cinema, they immediately—sometimes when a player has an injury, representatives can make an effort to make it work.”
Apparently, Fekir, who moved to Real Betis this summer for a paltry £22m, was oblivious to the chaos surrounding the transfer, and is still unaware himself of what actually derailed his dream move.
“The brother-in-law of Nabil Fekir all of a sudden acted like a player’s agent,” Bernes said. “He wanted a commission, everyone knows, it is fashionable these days.
”[Fekir] was on a cloud, he seemed to have transformed, he didn’t even greet the Liverpool representatives.
”He arrived after the medical, everyone was looking at each other, the Liverpool representatives were wondering where they were. I was ashamed.”
As are the rest of the Anfield faithful.