It’s been more than a year now since Nabil Fekir was meant to sign for Liverpool; more than a year since a deal and personal terms were reportedly agreed; more than a year since he did his unveiling interview for what was meant to be his new club.
And, of course, it’s been more than a year since the deal fell through, something Fekir, now a Real Betis player, talked about this week while on international duty. For Liverpool fans hoping for a little certainty about the situation, though, it may not help.
“Lots of lies were told and they affected me,” Fekir said to L’Equipe about the stories surrounding the breakdown of his Liverpool move. “What was said is not the truth. It hurt them and me. Especially when you know that’s what being told is false.
“My knee is good, I had a quick medical check at Clairefontaine, my knee wasn’t even mentioned. But the worst thing is the idea that people could suggest that it’s because of my family that the transfer didn’t happen. It’s a lie. But you have to live with it.”
In addition to the widespread belief his previously damaged knee and potential issues due to its reconstruction had scared Liverpool off, there were a smattering of rumours Fekir’s desire to have his brother follow him to Liverpool scuppered the move.
On that second point, when Fekir moved from Lyon to Betis, his brother Yassin, a 22-year-old forward, joined their b team in the fourth division. As to what did cause his Liverpool move to break down, Fekir says he’s hardly more certain than the rest of us.
“You want the truth?” he said. “Even I don’t know. I did my medical and they decided not to sign me. At some point they wanted to have me believe it was because of my knee but an excuse needed to be found. The tests were very clear, my knee is fine.
“But I have no bitterness towards Liverpool. I met them and we got on brilliantly. They showed that they really wanted me. But when you surround yourself with the wrong people, it comes off badly on you. It was a dark moment in my career.”
Meanwhile, quickly along to tell the alleged other side to the story—and seeming to confirm who it is Fekir is suggesting is the real reason he didn’t complete his Anfield move in the summer of 2018—his former agent was quick to respond to Fekir’s interview.
“He has to stop this and stop taking people for fools,” Jean-Pierre Bernes said in a follow-up with L’Equipe. “Everyone knows what happened. The transfer failed for two reasons. The first is his knee—though the English club were willing to make an effort.
“The second is the appearance of a foreign pseudo-representative who asked for the negotiations to be resumed from the beginning at the moment of signing. Between this episode and the medical visit, Liverpool decided to abandon the transfer.”
According to Fekir, he says doesn’t know why the deal fell through, but he appears to blame his former agent. According to that agent, it was his knee and the man who replaced him. More than a year on, about all we know is that the deal did break down.