Nabil Fekir fiasco leads to Liverpool fans' disquiet over transfer dealings
It's not even mid-June and there's already disquiet over Liverpool transfer dealings. It has become the traditional "first sign of summer."
The feel-good factor from the covert operation which brought Monaco's Fabinho to Anfield appears to have been dissipated by the shambolic, on-off drama surrounding the club's attempt to prise Nabil Fekir away from Lyon.
Fabinho's arrival was applauded as old school; a resurrection of the efficiency the club regularly used to do their business. Fans should probably have known better.
Unsurprisingly both clubs are claiming they brought proceedings to a halt. There are even some, like ESPN FC's Steve Nicol, who felt the player could still sign for Liverpool eventually.
It's capped off a peculiar week for the Reds. The announcement of Loris Karius suffering concussion during the Champions League final had kicked up the dust that had only just begun to settle.
A largely fine season and the achievement of reaching Kiev in the first place seemed to have been accepted before the Karius news.
It inevitably led to more comment from Sergio Ramos and even Marcelo for some reason, while those Liverpool fans still wary of their Boston owners began imagining strings being pulled that would somehow end in no replacement for the German this summer.
The logic being that Karius only made those errors because he was temporarily disorientated. A fuller, much-needed discussion of the dangers of head injuries in football seemed sadly to fall by the wayside.
Now the Fekir deal appears to be derailed, invoking memories of last summer when Virgil van Dijk was practically declared a new signing while his actual club Southampton knew little or nothing about it. The fact the Dutchman did sign up further down the line isn't a consolatory factor, somehow.
This feels a little different. It's true Liverpool should have kept quiet until every "t" was crossed and every "i" dotted, ultimate embarrassment was always possible. Even so, if there was the slightest risk of the player breaking down after such an expensive outlay the club have done the right thing.
It's easy to forget Naby Keita is about to become a Liverpool player. Under normal circumstances getting two fine players like Keita and Fabinho into your club before rivals have made any serious moves would be greeted with happiness.
The stock of Fekir, undoubtedly a fine player, rose considerably among Liverpool fans almost entirely from their own club's pursuit of him. It stands to reason that if the deal does fall through for good, he won't have been that much of a miss after all.
Such is club loyalty, yet it does feel a little hysterical at the moment. Even during the summer, Liverpool's often nervy fan base can't seem to switch off.
There's a whole summer of noncommittal football to enjoy from Russia, where amateur scouts can run their perceptive gaze over the world's best players in order to find somebody else Liverpool can sign instead.
It's also worth a reminder that there's another 80 days left of this transfer window and frustration seems a bit premature. Save some ire for the final week of August, at least. You'll probably need it.
Taking stock of Liverpool's situation is helpful. Two consecutive top four finishes and reaching the Champions League final, scoring a more than healthy 227 goals during that time, is reason enough to be optimistic. Two fine players are already in the bag and more should follow.
Jurgen Klopp is now at the water's edge, standing in the same place as some of his Anfield predecessors. Since 1990, numerous managers have almost taken Liverpool back to the top in England.
Roy Evans' best effort was third place while Gerard Houllier, Rafa Benitez and Brendan Rodgers all came second. They were sadly the exact moments when the pressure of the job just became too great.
Klopp knows as well as anyone these final steps towards the kind of team Liverpool fans expect -- even seem to demand after all this time -- can be tense and faltering.
Those final pieces of the jigsaw are always the hardest to find. Even with Fekir, that search would still go on.
Fans generally wanted another goalkeeper, although the last one they revered -- Pepe Reina -- never cost the eye-watering fee being quoted for the likes of Roma's Allison or Atletico Madrid's Jan Oblak. Is there really nobody else?
With more than two months to go before the manager has to sign off on his squad for season 2018-19, strap yourselves in for more transfer blind alleys and perhaps even another fiasco or two. It seems to be the modern way.
There is still time to savour the excellent season that's just finished. The next one is bound to be fraught enough without worrying about losing out on Lyon's playmaker.
Steven Kelly is one of ESPN FC's Liverpool bloggers. Follow him on Twitter @SteKelly198586.