It has been a very busy summer in Seville. Both Real Betis and Sevilla FC have appointed new coaches with Rubi taking over from Quique Setien at the Benito Villamarin while Julen Lopetegui has been entrusted with the job across town. Sevilla have already completed no fewer than eleven new signings but the most exciting addition to the Andalusian footballing landscape this summer is surely Nabli Fekir who has completed a move from Lyon to Real Betis for a reported fee of just €19.75m.
A Bargain – Why was Fekir so Cheap?
Nabil Fekir on way to Real Betis for £20 million just a year after being heavily linked to Champions League winners Liverpool.
— #TheHomeOfFootball (@THOF_) July 22, 2019
In an era of inflated transfer fees, it’s extremely rare that a transfer takes place that is almost instantly branded a bargain. That has been the almost universal reaction to this deal with many questioning quite how Betis have not only attracted a player of Fekir’s quality but also managed to sign him up for such a small fee given the French international was on the brink of a €60m move to Liverpool only last summer.
The switch to Liverpool reportedly collapsed after Fekir’s medical flagged up a long standing knee problem which was enough to convince the Reds to pull out of the move after a lengthy transfer saga. Inevitably that would have made rival clubs wary of making a move for the player and Fekir ultimately remained a Lyon player for the 2018/19 campaign.
It was a season that wasn’t quite as successful on the pitch for Fekir, although he wasn’t the only one of France’s World Cup contingent to have less impressive campaigns. Fekir netted nine times in Ligue 1, compared to eighteen times the previous season. He also suffered six separate injury lay-offs, although most were connected to ankle and groin trouble as opposed to the supposed dodgy knee.
Either way, Fekir’s stock has clearly fallen over the past twelve months. Throw in the factor that his contract at Lyon was due to expire in twelve months and the French club were left in a difficult position where they clearly felt they had to move the player on this summer to avoid losing him for nothing in 2020.
€19.75m still seems on the low side even factoring all that in. There are clearly risks from a Betis perspective but for the fee they’ve paid, they will have reason to think they’ve pulled off a real coup by signing a player who is amongst the best in the world on his day, ahead of a season when they can’t even offer new arrivals European football.
A Transfer with clear Knock-On Effects
Real Betis midfielder Giovani Lo Celso is close to joining Tottenham for an estimated €50M, according to multiple reports pic.twitter.com/xVxjudNXle
— B/R Football (@brfootball) July 23, 2019
The arrival of Nabil Fekir, clearly paves the way for Betis to sell Giovani Lo Celso. They had previously been insistent that any potential buyers match the €98m release clause in his contract. However now they have a clear and very talented replacement for the Argentine, they are likely to accept considerably less than that with the likes of Tottenham and Bayern Munich competing for his signature.
Even if Betis only receive half of that figure, they will still be making a huge profit on the midfielder who only officially become a permanent Betis player this month after the club activated an option to buy the 23 year old from PSG for €22m following his successful loan stint last term.
Los Verdiblancos are also eager to free up funds to complete the signing of Borja Iglesias with the striker set to follow his most recent boss Rubi to Betis. Finding a predatory striker was always going to be a priority this summer and Iglesias, who has a €28m release clause would be just the ticket.
What will Fekir bring to Betis?
— Olympique Lyonnais (@OL) July 22, 2019
Nabil Fekir’s arrival is certainly something that should capture the imagination of the Betis fans who grew increasingly angry towards the end of last season with the way things were going under Quique Setien. With 60,000 seats to fill, the importance of that can’t be under-estimated at a stadium where talk of the 12th man is more than just a cliché.
There was always going to be a change in direction heading into the new campaign with Rubi at the helm and it remains to be seen exactly what formation he will use when he has all his new recruits on board. If Borja Iglesias completes his move from Espanyol as expected then Rubi may opt to go 4-4-2 with Fekir operating as the deeper of the two. Alternatively Fekir may be utilised in an attacking midfield role, more or less filling the void left by the expected departure of Lo Celso.
Betis’ ability to attract a player of Fekir’s calibre also has to be seen as good news for the league as a whole and only adds to the excitement building ahead of the new season.
Preview via Daniel Garcia – Contact: email@example.com