EVERTON’S season took another turn on Thursday night as they were beaten 2-1 at home to Lyon.
Nabil Fekir starred for the away side; OL’s captain dispatching an early penalty to set the French side on their way to the three points and leave the Toffees propping the group up with one point from nine.
Our friends at Football Whispers take a closer look at the playmaker who could be quickly becoming France’s next superstar.
Who is Nabil Fekir and where does he come from?
Lyon lost Alexandre Lacazette, Corentin Tolisso and Maxime Gonalons this summer. Three huge blows, but all departures which were expected. One positive for the Ligue 1 side was that they still had Fekir.
Another product of their youth academy, this would be his chance to step out from under their shadows.
OL went big in the transfer market, investing €50.5million of the funds the recouped in trying to strengthen their squad.
Mariano Diaz and Bertrand Traore joined Memphis Depay – who arrived from Manchester United in January – to create an exciting attack. But it’s Fekir who has been their standout performer this season.
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He made his debut at the end of the 2013/14 campaign, starting six games, scoring once and picking up two assists.
It was beside Lacazette the following season that he really caught the eye.
Finishing with 13 goals and nine assists, the powerful No.10 was devastating playing in a front two or behind the attack.
All eyes were on Fekir and how he would develop during his second full season. But it didn’t go as expected.
After scoring a hat-trick against Caen in week four, everything was looking good until he went to play for France at the Stade de France.
In a friendly against Portugal, disaster struck when Fekir had to come off after suffering a cruciate knee injury.
He would miss eight months of action and although he returned with five games to go, he wouldn’t make Didier Deschamps squad for the European Championships help in France.
His recovery was slow and even into last term, he didn’t look the same player. Trying to combine with Lacazette and Depay, it was Fekir who looked lost, although he still managed nine goals and four assists in 28 starts.
You can see a difference this season though. His goal from the halfway line against Bordeaux is one of the highlights of the season and beside an inexperienced strike-force, Fekir has become a leader and improved his creativity at the same time.
His penalty against Everton was his eighth of the campaign, he’s also picked up three assists in just 12 games.
An Arsenal and Liverpool transfer target in the past, if he can maintain this form he should be on the plane for next summer’s World Cup in Russia and back on the wanted list for most Premier League clubs.
How much will he cost?
In 2015 he signed a deal that runs until 2020 so there is no pressure on Lyon to sell just yet.
With Tolisso worth £35m to Bayern Munich and Lacazette becoming Arsenal’s record transfer at £45m, it would be understandable for OL to ask for somewhere in that ballpark.
Anything over £40m would start the conversation, but president Jean Michel Aulas will hold out for around the £50m mark.
Where is his most likely destination?
Premier League clubs will always show interest. Recently Barcelona and Real Madrid have been mentioned, with the player opening the door to Los Blancos, managed by French icon Zinedine Zidane.
“If tomorrow he calls me, I would never refuse him,” Fekir told French TV show Canal Football Club.
“That’s in the back of my mind too. It’s good that I’m at Lyon today. It’s a very big club.
“But I want to aim for the top… Barca, Real, Bayern, PSG. Why not?
“You have to be ambitious and I am so we’ll see what happens.”
Only clubs in the Champions League need apply, putting more importance in the chase for the top three in England this season.