22 Midfielder Lyon France
It was all going so well. 13 goals scored and nine assists delivered in Ligue 1 last season; a debut for the France senior team in March; four goals in four Ligue 1 games to start this season in style – including three goals from three shots versus Caen – and another assist for good measure suggested that Nabil Fekir was on course to have the year that dreams are made of.
2015 has been…
The 22 year-old was nine months through a perfect year and forcing us to have an actual conversation about a potential A grade until things crashed down around him in a matter of minutes. Instead of trying to help Lyon towards a seriously unlikely challenge in Ligue 1 and preparing for the European Championships in France next summer, he will spend the next few months battling to get his footballing career back on track.
Nabil’s first start for France in September lasted just 14 minutes before he had to be stretchered from the pitch. The initial prognosis wasn’t good and within days it was confirmed that the 22 year-old had ruptured his cruciate ligament and would spend at least six months on the sidelines.
For now, his focus has to be on getting back to full fitness no matter how long that might take. Rushing back or trying too much too soon will have an effect on him long after Euro 2016 has been completed and will keep him from reaching the very top of the game.
Thankfully for him, PSG’s 13 point lead at the top of Ligue 1 suggests there will be less pressure on Lyon in the final few weeks of the season; and they should be able to be patient with the returning Fekir and allow him time to play through the rustiness. He is expected to be back in action at some point in February so Euro 2016 is still an outside possibility but it shouldn’t be his focus.
Fekir is a two footed player with a single-minded attacking game plan. He likes to play at the head of the midfield but is more of a determined goal scorer than a creative force. He was caught offside 18 times last season, which suggests he is quite happy playing beyond the strikers. If he wants to cement the number 10 role as his own; he’ll need to start threading a few passes into the path of his team-mates as well as trying to latch onto theirs.
One quick caveat on that – Fekir has only played 49 times in Ligue 1. He is still a very raw player and there is much polishing that can still be done.
If he misses Euro 2016, it will be a shame. He’ll miss out on a tournament on home soil but it won’t be his last chance to impress on the very biggest stage. If his knee is fixed properly he’ll be capable of doing special things for club and country in the years to come.
C+ No rush; think long term
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