Liverpool may need to shell out a club-record fee in order to complete the signing of Nabil Fekir ahead of Arsenal this summer, according to reports. The 27-year-old is enjoying a strong campaign with Real Betis, helping to keep his side in the hunt for European football next season with three goals and six assists.
Fekir is no stranger to Jurgen Klopp or the Reds, who tried to secure his services from old club Lyon three years ago before a deal fell through at the eleventh hour.
The Frenchman eventually joined Betis a year later, establishing himself as a crucial cog in the machine for Manuel Pellegrini’s side with consistently impressive performances in the middle of the park.
Liverpool are crying out for additional creativity after scoring just five Premier League goals over the last two months of action, with the Anfield club’s toothlessness in attack a major influence behind their rapid fall from grace since the turn of the year.
The situation has led to speculation linking the Reds with a renewed approach for Fekir, but transfer chief Michael Edwards could be forced into loosening the purse strings in order to seal a deal.
The playmaker has a £77m release clause written into his contract with Betis, according to Spanish outlet Estadio Deportivo.
The Andalusian club are believed to be reluctant to sell their man at any price, suggesting that Liverpool’s only route to his signature may be to match the fee and go straight into negotiating personal terms with the player and his representatives.
However, the report claims that the defending Premier League champions will face stiff competition from Arsenal and Barcelona.
The Gunners are set to lose Real Madrid loanee Martin Odegaard at the end of the season, with Los Blancos reportedly unwilling to consider the possibility of a permanent move.
This would leave a huge hole in the north London side’s midfield, with club director Edu admitting before Odegaard’s arrival that a creative player was the main area of concern in terms of recruitment.
Arsenal could be set to pursue Fekir as an alternative to the Norwegian youngster, but it remains to be seen whether they can beat Liverpool to the finish line.
Meanwhile, new Barcelona president Joan Laporta is also said to be keen on the Betis midfielder.
Fekir is a recent addition to the stable of athletes at Promoesport, an Catalan agency firm based in Andalusia, hinting that La Blaugrana could be in contention for his signature at the end of the season.
However, Barca are currently in the midst of a highly-publicised financial crisis, with their less-than-favourable situation potentially opening the door for Liverpool to swoop.
It remains to be seen whether Fekir will be successfully recruited at the second time of asking.
Klopp claimed last month that changes will be needed in order to mount a renewed Premier League challenge next season, but stressed that a large-scale summer clearout is not required despite Liverpool’s poor run of recent form.
“This squad this year didn’t really get the chance to play together, it would make sense to have a look at that. On top of that, little readjustments will happen.”