It was not that long ago when Nabil Fekir was linked with Europe’s top following a remarkable career at Lyon, and at one point was close to joining Liverpool. However, an injury ruled out the move and he later ended up joining Real Betis where he could not display the magic he had previously shown at Lyon.
Nabil Fekir is predominantly an attacking midfielder with France manager Didier Deschamps saying, “He plays in a different role to the others. He can score and set up others to score well.”
Fekir has a lot to offer to Newcastle United, a team that lacks creativity through the centre.
Following the takeover, the Magpies have indeed signed a handful of players, however, none enough to take them higher up on the table. Signing Fekir can strengthen their squad comprehensively as they look for a better Premier League showing and with the Frenchman being available at 35 million euros it is a no-brainer.
Having started his senior career at Lyon, Fekir scored 54 and assisted 34 in his 145 games over the period of 6 years, which is quite a good return. He won the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year and was inducted into the Team of the Year in 2015 and a couple of years later went on the captain the club. In his last season at the club, he scored 18 goals and formed a formidable trio with Depay, who scored 19, and Mariano who scored 18. At Betis, however, his G+A ratio was cut in half as he scored 18 and assisted 21 in 99 games and in spite of signing a new deal in February is ready to move on.
Nabil Fekir is a dead ball specialist and is capable of moving out of tight spaces with his silky feet and close possession. He is a composed finisher, a trait even more dangerous with his creativity and knack for defence-splitting passes. His versatility enables him to play anywhere across the attacking line, in midfield, on the wings, or even as a striker. One drawback is his injury history and playing in the ever-so-physical Premier League he runs the risk of being further injured.
At Newcastle, the Frenchman would be a key figure, tasked with both scoring and creating either from the central midfield or from the right. The Magpies lineup with a straight line of attackers and midfielders with Almiron, Saint-Maximin, and Callum Wilson forming the attack and Guimaraes, Joelinton, and Longstaff in midfield. The areas for improvement are in Almiron and Longstaff. If Eddie Howe was to replace Almiron, Fekir would fit in without any tactical tweak, but if he were to replace Longstaff, Fekir would play a more attacking role with Guimaraes and Joelinton forming a double pivot.
The question is, therefore, does Howe switch his formation to play Fekir in his dominant position or play the same formation but have Fekir play in his secondary position?
Whatever Eddie Howe’s decision may be, if Newcastle do get the transfer over the line, they have a massive signing on their hands, someone in his prime with something to prove who maybe sees this as an attempt to get into the French squad for the 2022 world cup. Fekir has shown glimpses of his talent and skill in the past and if managed carefully and tactfully he may just be the beginning of Newcastle’s quest to reach the top.