That’s the suggestion of chief football correspondent at the New York Times, Rory Smith, who believes that the French side even tried to renegotiate the agreed fee to push Fekir’s move to Anfield through.
A £53million deal was agreed with the Ligue 1 outfit on Friday as Liverpool looked to wrap up a transfer before the World Cup and make Fekir their second summer signing after Fabinho.
Liverpool staff were in Paris to conduct a medical at France’s Clarefontaine training base on Friday morning with a deal expected to be announced later the same day just 24 hours after a breakthrough in negotiations.
But as Liverpool supporters waited for confirmation of Fekir’s arrival, it emerged late on Friday that the move had struck a hitch – widely believed to be because of an old knee ligament injury that caused the Reds’ medical department to question the player’s fitness levels.
Lyon have since ended all negotiations with Liverpool, insisting that they were “delighted to be able to count on the presence of our captain” next season in a statement released at 7pm UK time yesterday.
But Smith has revealed a shock twist in the transfer saga by stating that Lyon were actually the team looking to smooth out the deal after doubts arose in the Merseyside outfit’s camp.
That is a huge contrast to some beliefs that the transfer has been put under threat due to the tough-negotiating tactics of Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas.
Sports journalist Smith said on Twitter: “At the risk of ruining my Saturday night, [I] believe Liverpool pulled out of the Fekir deal on Friday, after the medical.
“Lyon then tried to renegotiate terms to push it through, but were unsuccessful.
“Just to be clear, too: I have no idea if the deal can be resurrected.
“I’m not saying it’s definitively off or on or that he will or won’t sign. I don’t know.”
Fekir was set to sign a five-year deal worth £140,000-a-week with some reports indicating that the 24-year-old even conducted interviews with the club’s in-house TV channel, LFCTV, after his medical.
The Lyon captain, who will feature for France at this summer’s World Cup, had been identified as the man to vacate the No 10 role left available since Philippe Coutinho’s departure in January.
It remains to be seen whether Liverpool will go back in for Fekir, who scored 23 goals last season for Lyon, having suffered a similar setback in their pursuit of Virgil van Dijk last summer – settling for signing the centre-back in January.