Arsenal are reportedly ready to jostle with Barcelona for the signing of Lyon forward Nabil Fekir.
According to Sport, there is serious interest from the Blaugrana in Fekir, who has been in brilliant form this term. However, the report noted Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger “wants him to team up with his former Lyon team-mate [Alexandre] Lacazette” at the Emirates Stadium.
The report added the Gunners are considering a move for Fekir as a potential replacement for Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean’s contract is up at the end of the current campaign.
Xavi Hernandez of Marca reported earlier this week that Barca have stepped up their interest in the Frenchman, with the club’s technical director Robert Fernandez having scouted him during a 3-0 win over Everton. Hernandez noted that with Liverpool playing hardball over Philippe Coutinho, Fekir is being considered as an alternative.
The 24-year-old forward has enjoyed a brilliant beginning to the 2017-18 season, seizing responsibility in the final third following the departure of Lacazette.
As these numbers from OptaJean illustrate, there aren’t many players who have enjoyed such a rapid beginning to a Ligue 1 season:
2 – Fekir is the 2nd French player to score 11 goals after 12 matchdays in L1 over the last 40 seasons after Benzema in 2007/08 (11). Heir. https://t.co/3eanrBNTtB
Encouragingly for supporters of those two sides aforementioned, there have been suggestions recently that Fekir would be ready to make the switch to the Premier League or to La Liga.
“If you’re a Lyon man the only French club that can interest you is Lyon,” said the forward lately, per the initial source. “There’s nothing that can tempt you like Spain or England, they are the most attractive leagues, they love football.”
Additionally, back in 2015, the player’s father spoke highly of Arsenal and particularly their manager. “If he leaves, it will be for Arsenal,” he said, per Charles Watts of Football.London. “It’s the only club that can enable him to progress, with Wenger.”
It would be intriguing to know if much has changed in those two years, as the chance to move to the Camp Nou would also surely appeal to Fekir. Journalist Rafael Hernandez believes next summer would be the ideal time for the forward to make the next step in his career:
Nabil Fekir is back, needs a move to a top club next summer, amazing player that was unlucky to be injured for so long.
In truth, it’s easy to see Fekir thriving at whatever club he ends up moving to, as he’s such a talented footballer.
The France international can operate in advanced positions on the right flank, the left flank and even at the point of the attack when needed. But this season he’s been utilised as a No. 10, typically behind Mariano Diaz, and has thrived.
Fekir can dribble, pick passes and is exceptional at finding spaces in the final third. And it’s clear from earlier quotes he has a strong affinity with Lyon.
With that in mind, French football journalist Andrew Gibney would like to see him stay where he is:
BACK OFF. Can’t see Lyon doing any business. Especially for Fekir. What a player. https://t.co/Lj7lzmajf4
There will come a point, as was the case for Lacazette last summer, when Fekir will feel as though he needs to take the next step in his career. As grand a club as Lyon are, there’s a sense already this season that their skipper is beginning to outgrow them.
Should Arsenal lose Sanchez, there would be a natural space in their attack for the Frenchman to step into. But for any player of Fekir’s style, the chance to move to Barcelona would also be an enticing prospect.