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Fekir & Liverpool: Why Klopp the big loser from this fiasco

COMMENT: Be angry for Nabil Fekir today. Be frustrated. But don't feel sorry for the France midfielder - because there's no way he'll be indulging in any 'woe be me' stuff this morning.

Fekir will be angry, though. Angry that he's wasted weeks, indeed months, speaking with Liverpool. Angry that he was able to pull on a Reds shirt on Friday. Angry that he thought his future was now settled.

But the Lyon captain also knows he has options. Diego Simeone and Atletico Madrid. Bayern Munich. Take your pick. The opinion of Liverpool's medical staff isn't set in stone. It's just another opportunity. An opening for a rival to convince Fekir to take all those plans, all those dreams, about a future with Liverpool and pour them into another club. A club that will actually take that risk and back the man over any 'what if' a medical report splurts out.

That knee surgery happened three years ago. And you really wonder what value - if any - some inside the game put on the mental strength needed to overcome such setbacks. Fekir has just come off a career best season. A first campaign as club captain. In a leadership role he has thrived. Indeed, while those at Melwood reckon surgery three years ago should define Fekir's future, many who have come in contact with the 24 year-old reckon it was the making of the €70m player we see today.

Kémil Sebaa, who played with Fekir at Saint-Priest, says: "He turned this injury into something positive.

"It allowed him to rebalance his body, with a lot of work done in the abs. Before, he was a bit like a bull but his power is now put to the benefit of his technique. You can see that he now can resist the pressure of defenders of over 6ft tall."

Fekir's old coach at Saint-Priest, Robert Mouangue, goes further: "Nothing is due to chance in his career. At 20, he was still nothing. He works and he will always fight to get to the top. He had already forged a character but his serious injury reminded him of where he came from and made him stronger."

Of course, Liverpool do have previous. And with another France international, no less. It was a different team, but four years ago those in charge at Melwood ruled against Loic Remy's arrival. The striker, then with QPR, would move to Chelsea, later revealing Liverpool pulled out over a heart concern. He's had his injury problems since, has Remy, but it's had nowt to do with his heart.

So is this Moneyball rearing it's head at Liverpool? The geeks having the final say? You hope not. It surely cannot be down to money. Not when Jurgen Klopp sees Fekir as the ideal man - at €70m - to replace Philippe Coutinho, a €140m sale.

The big loser in this fiasco is the Liverpool manager. It's back to the drawing board for the German. By his own admission, he doesn't do 'plan Bs'. After speaking face-to-face with Fekir in January. The pair assuring eachother of their commitment this summer. Fekir has now been spurned and Klopp is having to start all over again in his quest to replace Coutinho.

"If we bring in players, we bring them in because I want them. If not, then I don't [sign them]," he said almost 12 months ago. “There will not be a plan B, or plan C, or plan D. The player we bring in is plan A."

And that plan A was Fekir. Xherdan Shaqiri, the wantaway Stoke City midfielder, has been mentioned as an alternative. But Klopp sees the Swiss as versatile cover for his front three - not the player to fill Coutinho's void.

Anderson Talisca has been raised. Indeed, Klopp asked after him during negotiations with Jorge Mendes, the Portuguese super agent, for Fabinho. But the Brazilian has since left Benfica for China and Guangzhou Evergrande. The deal rubberstamped last Friday just as Fekir was being rejected by Klopp's medical team.

So for Liverpool, it's back to the drawing board. Klopp is backing his medical team. And he should. But Fekir will bounce back. He's done it before. And he'll do it now. Only it won't be in a Liverpool shirt next season.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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