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Under our Talent Radar banner, we have constantly strived to document and highlight the progress of the younger stars of the beautiful game, before they progress into household names. Our latest initiative within the burgeoning Talent Radar section is the introduction of #The10 feature.
This annual feature champions the combination of youth & diversity, as we look to reward 10 of the best young individuals across 10 primary categories. This piece looks at the best young star in between the posts.
For all queries regarding this feature, eligibility and selection process, read this piece.
Nabil Fekir is another of the French Algerian players to have made an impact in Ligue 1. Following on, and of course, looking to replicate the results of the legendary Zizou. Fekir plays in a similar position as his illustrious predecessor, serving as a creative outlet for his side. His partnership with Lacazette last season was crucial to the exciting Lyon team that challenged for the Ligue 1 title. He’s also made his international debut for France, after withdrawing from the Algeria squad to allow himself to play for France. Lyon fans have more than just a soft spot for him, especially because he’s also a Lyon youth product. Fekir also won the Talent Radar Award for Best Young Player of the Season, in his break out season.
2015 has been a mixed sort of year for Fekir in retrospect. He had a terrific first half, as he led Lyon’s ultimately unsuccessful title challenge. 5 goals and 7 assists in the run in made his contributions hard to ignore. He ended up getting a host of awards at the end of the season, with the Talent Radar Player of the Season award supplemented by the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year award as well. He began this season with a bang as well, making appearances for France, and scoring 4 times in his first 4 appearances for the club, including a superb hattrick.
Of course, it all went pear shaped after that, with a serious knee injury disrupting his season, and most probably ending it. Several people, including Lyon president Jean Michel Aulas feel that he might have helped Lyon a lot more in their quest for Champions league progress. Had it not been for the injury, the team at Outside of the Boot were convinced the Frenchman could retain his Talent Radar Player of the Season title. It’s a testament to his talent that we include him in this feature, despite the injury.
Fekir is a really creative and a very attacking player. And this easy to see for anyone who watches him play. His numbers reflect the same. He is small, fast, fairly strong, and very creative. His dribbling is excellent, and he wins approximately 60% of his dribbles. He’s not shy of shooting at goal either, and does so with great accuracy as well. A good conversion rate is also an asset, with around 15% of his shots ending up nestled in the back of the net. Of course, the USP of Nabil Fekir is his creativity and passing ability. An 84% pass completion rate for someone who plays in that area is excellent, and his assist count is also very high.
Here’s a snippet from a detail Scout Report on the Frenchman we published earlier in the year (written by Bill McLoughlin):
“Fekir is a typical modern age winger; quick, technical and small. Within Lyon’s system Fekir either plays on the wing or with Lacazette in a partnership. Although comfortable in a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation, his most comfortable position seems to be the right wing. Like many left footed wingers playing on the right hand side, he loves driving at fullbacks and cutting inside to shoot. What this does mean, however, is that he is unlikely to drive to the by line and cross with his right foot.
Although he doesn’t always cross, unlike many left footers, Fekir is not afraid to use his right foot to cross and finish in the box- occasionally.It is obviously his right foot isn’t as strong as his left- this is something he can work on- at least he isn’t completely one-footed. Despite being only 5’8”, he is very strong on the ball. If anything, his strength might be his most surprising trait. He uses his body very well and creates clever angles to block defenders and shield the ball. Due to this he can quite easily hold off defenders and draws a lot of fouls because of it. He may not be nearly as good, his strength on the ball and acceleration reminds me slightly of Hazard. (read the rest of the report here)”