By 90Min
June 17, 2018

Little more than a week ago, Liverpool looked almost certain to add to their summer transfer dealings with the signing of Lyon captain Nabil Fekir.

Despite the deal being on the verge of completion - with Fekir reportedly having already picked out his squad number - Reds fans were left disappointed when the deal collapsed at the last minute over concerns regarding the player's fitness.

PHILIPPE DESMAZES/GettyImages

However, sports journalist Duncan Castle has suggested that Liverpool pulled the plug on the deal for the French attacker for a different reason - so that they could arrange the cheaper signing of Sporting CP wide man Gelson Martins instead.

On The Transfer Window Podcast (via the Daily Star), Castles said: “I think finance is definitely an issue. They have spent heavily already on Fabinho and Naby Keita.

“An area where Liverpool could save - and this could have come into consideration with Nabil Fekir - is moving for a player they've scouted for a number of years in Portugal. Gelson Martins is a wide attacker who can beat an opponent with skill rather than pace.

“Martins is one of six Sporting players who have cancelled their contracts with 'just cause' because of the training ground incident where the players were attacked. In principle, he is now free to sign for any club he wants.

“It's not a straightforward situation in that the court will have to uphold his claim, so I would think a more likely scenario is the club wanting to sign him will use Gelson's claim to negotiate a discount on the fee with Sporting.”

Several of Sporting's key players - including goalkeeper Rui Patricio and top scorer Bas Dost -will be leaving the club this summer following the altercation with fans at their training ground which left Dost needing stitches after being attacked. The incident took place following Sporting's failure to qualify for the Champions League.

Gualter Fatia/GettyImages

Martins, 23, is currently in Russia with Portugal's World Cup squad, though he did not feature in Friday night's thrilling 3-3 draw with Group B rivals Spain. 

He has made 125 appearances for Sporting since breaking into the first team in 2015, scoring 25 goals in that time.

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