Just a few days ago, I waxed lyrical about the immense talent and potential of the young Lyon playmaker Nabil Fekir. What a week it had been for the 22-year-old Frenchman - he scored a hat-trick in Lyon's 4-0 victory over Caen last weekend and last night he was rewarded for his impressive club form with his first start for the senior French national team, as he played just behind Karim Benzema up front in their friendly fixture against Portugal.
The French youngster of Algerian descent started the game brightly last night and showed early signs of being assured on the international stage with some deft touches and fine link-up play with his the likes of Paul Pogba and Karim Benzema.
However, in the 13th minute Fekir pulled up somewhat innocuously after seemingly having twisted his knee and signalled to the bench in distress. The French physios came on the pitch and helped the youngster to his feet as he limped gingerly off the pitch - as shown in the image above. Few thought at the time that the injury would be anything but a minor knock and that he was taken off for precautionary measures.
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The official FFF (Federation Francaise de Football) Twitter account confirmed after the match, however, that Fekir had ruptured his cruciate ligament in his right knee and now faces six months on the sidelines.
This is a huge setback for the player personally who, at 22, has the world at his feet, it's an enormous blow too for the French national team who had finally hoped that they had found the heir to Zinedine Zidane's number 10 position a decade after his retirement from the international arena, and finally it's a massive stroke of misfortune for Fekir's club side Lyon who had started building their team around their talented playmaker as they aim to mount a significant title challenge this season to break up the domestic dominance of PSG.
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France won the game 1-0 last night in Lisbon following a sublime Mathieu Valbuena free-kick, but the main talking point is the injury to their young starlet who was surely nailed on for a place in their Euro 2016 squad as they bid to win their first major international tournament since their triumph in 1998 where a certain young man of Algerian origin led them to glory on their home turf.
Many French fans believed that Fekir could have a Zidane-like impact on their home Euros next summer, but unfortunately he now faces a race against time to prove himself fit and firing in order to secure a place in Didier Deschamps' competitive 23-man squad.
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