18th July – Nabil Fekir

Nabil Fekir might not have played a massive part in France winning the 2018 World Cup but he is a very talented player and one that many clubs in the world would love to have.

It has not always been easy for the attacking midfielder and he has come along way since being released at the age of 14 for not being strong enough and has always shown his drive and determination by holding out until Lyon signed him again. Despite interest from rivals Saint Etienne, Fekir wanted to show that the youth coaches at Lyon had made a big mistake in letting him go in the first place.

He would go on to make his professional debut on the 28th August 2013 as a substitute against Real Sociedad in a Champions League qualifier and three days later he made his full Ligue 1 debut against Evian. In his first season he played a total of 17 games, with his best coming against Bastia in which he scored and assisted goals for Bakary Kone and Alexandre Lacazette.

Fekir

In the following campaign he became a regular and after scoring 15 goals he earned his first call up to the France squad and was also named the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year. At the start of the 2015-16 season Fekir scored a hatrick against Caen but shortly afterwards suffered a horrendous injury that kept him out of action for the rest of the season.

Fekir France

This could have slowed down his career but he bounced back and during the 2016-17 season he played 49 times and scored 14 goals. After the sale of Maxime Gonalons to Roma, Fekir was named the new club captain which was seen as a slight shock at the time but he had already proved his love for the club previously. One of his first big moments as captain was to score two goals against Saint Etienne but due to the rivalry between the teams he almost caused a riot by celebrating his second in front of their supporters and the game was stopped for almost 40 minutes.

Fekir Lyon

In June 2018 it looked as though the playmaker would sign for Liverpool and everyone expected the transfer to go through but the negotiations were unsuccessful.

Despite a promising start to his international career he hasn’t had the best of luck as he suffered a long term injury playing for his country against Portugal. In addition to this he has had to pull out of many squads because of niggling problems but despite this he still seems to be a valuable member of the squad. He will be proud that he was brought on for Olivier Giroud in the World Cup final win over Croatia.

The final word can go to French manager Didier Deschamps. “Fekir is a player with great potential. I consider that he can bring us something different. He plays in different roles to others. He can score and set up others to score as well.”

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9th September – Alex Song

West Ham pulled off what could be the signing of the summer when they loaned defensive midfielder Alex Song from Barcelona and he will certainly add a lot to the team.

Although he is more known for his tough tackling and strength, what is underrated is his passing ability and being able to spot a pass from a deep lying position. It is not surprising that Robin Van Persie and Song had a very good partnership at Arsenal and the striker profited from Song’s vision and Van Persie knew if he made a run then Song could find him. But at West Ham he will definitely be loved and could play a part in getting them a top half finish.

Song began his career at French club Bastia and in the 2003-04 season he became a part of their first team, playing both at centre back and holding midfield and made 34 appearances in all competitions. After his impressive rise he was being linked with a lot of clubs around Europe and it was Arsene Wenger who decided to sign him, initially on a season long loan.
Song Bastia
He made his Arsenal debut in a 2-0 win over Everton on the 19th September 2005. He only played a further eight times over the course of the season but he did enough to convince Wenger to sign him permanently in June 2006. During the 2006-07 season he scored his first goal in a 6-3 win over Liverpool in the League Cup. For the second half of the season he was loaned out to Charlton Athletic and although he performed brilliantly in his 12 games he could not help them avoid relegation.

After returning to Arsenal he still could not become a first team regular, and whenever he did play he was mostly used as a centre back. Finally his breakthrough came in 2008-09 season as he quickly became an important member of the team, forming a great partnership with Cesc Fabregas in the centre of midfield. He played 48 times in all competitions and scored his first Champions League goal against Fenerbahce and then his first league goal against Wigan Athletic.

His career blossomed from there and was rarely left out of the Arsenal team when he was fit. He will also go down in history for scoring the 1000th Arsenal Premier League goal under Arsene Wenger in a 4-1 win over Bolton Wanderers on the 11th September 2010.
Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Arsenal v Everton - Emirates Stadium
Fabregas departed Arsenal in the following summer and many wonder where their creativity was now going to come from and it was Song that stepped up the most. In his 34 Premier League games he assisted 11 goals, with many of these falling onto the left foot of Robin Van Persie. After 217 appearances for Arsenal he was signed by Barcelona for £15 million on the 20th August 2010.
Song Barca
In his first season he helped the club win La Liga but he did not get enough game time over the two seasons he spent at the club, appearing just 65 times and it was not a surprise to anyone that he was leaving the Spanish giants this summer, however not many expected him to join West Ham.

The final word can go to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. “Song wants to get forward. Sometimes defensive midfielders just want to defend. It’s not just his main role. He does it well in fairness. Song has improved his engine. He doesn’t need a breather now when he goes and comes back.”