Aston Villa have recently been linked with a move for Nabil Fekir.
According to reports in Spain, the Midlands outfit are interested in signing the Real Betis playmaker and are prepared to offer around €25m (£21m) for his signature.
There have been other Premier League teams mooted with a move for the Frenchman, though, including defending champions Manchester City and Saudi-backed Newcastle United, so sporting director Johan Lange may want to act swiftly if these claims are true.
Steven Gerrard has certainly been lacking from some creativity so far this campaign and that problem has extended from the backend of last season.
Philippe Coutinho has struggled to hit the same heights as he did when he first arrived at Villa Park.
After joining on an initial loan move from FC Barcelona, the Brazilian provided four goals and three assists in his opening eight matches but in the subsequent 13 games, two of which being this term, he has managed just one goal without providing an assist, as per Transfermarkt.
The 30-year-old is currently Villa’s second lowest-rated player by WhoScored averages for 2022/23 so far and as many as five different players have contributed more key passes created, including his main rival for the role, Emi Buendia (two per game).
As such, it could be a wise decision from the Villa staff to bring Fekir into the mix as it would not only hand the manager a solid alternative but he could also wake Coutinho up and realise that his role in the squad isn’t safe.
The Lyon-born 29-year-old has already provided an assist in Betis’ sole LaLiga fixture this campaign and it builds on fine form from 2021/22, where he delivered ten goals and ten assists across 47 appearances – that’s one direct contribution every 196 minutes.
Fekir also ranks inside the top 4% of all wingers and attacking midfielders across Europe for shot-creating actions (5.24 per 90) by FBref, who liken his statistical profile to that of Buendia and even Coutinho.
Well, on the above evidence, the Betis star could well be an upgrade on the Brazilian, who trails well behind for the same metric, managing only 3.16 shot-creating actions per 90, which sees him rank inside the 48th percentile (top 52%).
Not only is Fekir delivering goals and assists regularly but he is also proving to be the more reliable threat in the opposition’s third. It’s perhaps no surprise to have seen him dubbed a “genius” by club president Angel Haro.
Also lauded as a “Champions League-caliber playmaker” with “a deceptive burst of pace and deadly finishing to boot” by journalist Zach Lowry, Fekir would add a new dimension to Gerrard’s attack and whilst it’s not the most pressing concern, it’s clear that he could potentially offer more than Coutinho, who has struggled for form in recent outings.
Some reports claim that he would cost in the region of €45m (£38m) this window, so he won’t come cheap, but on the above evidence, he’d be worth every penny.
Johan Lange and co must look to get this one over the line.