Chris Bascombe 24 MAY 2018 • 10:30PM Liverpool are ready to build on their Champions League run by securing the services of Lyon playmaker Nabil Fekir. The club will step up the pursuit of the Frenchman after Saturday's final in Kiev and are confident they can fend off competition for the exciting 24-year-old. Negotiations are to speed up from next week on an expected £60 million deal. While Liverpool seek to demonstrate their improvement on the pitch by beating Real Madrid, completing the transfer of Fekir would show that they mean business off it. The Anfield recruitment team, led by sporting director Michael Edwards and Fenway Sports Group president Michael Gordon, are advanced in their planning for next season, eager to build on this year’s success. Liverpool still crave what is generally referred to around the club, even among the executives, as “No 19”. Liverpool’s last league title, their 18th, was won in 1990 but there is a significant points gap to bridge to catch Manchester City. Fekir would be seen as a direct replacement for Philippe Coutinho who joined Barcelona in January for £142 million – an attacking midfielder who can play in an advanced role or a midfield three. A member of France’s World Cup squad, Fekir has been at Lyon since aged 12. He was named France’s Young Player of the Year in 2015, and recovered from a serious knee injury to assume his club’s captaincy last season. The past 12 months have been his most productive, with 23 goals. Fekir has so far refused to commit himself to the French club ahead of next season, aware of the growing interest from abroad. Earlier this week, Lyon president Jean Michel Aulas said there had been no contact from Liverpool. He also warned clubs “will have to be very, very rich to sign Fekir”. However, there has been a shift in momentum – certainly from Liverpool’s perspective – over the past 24 hours and the club are hopeful a deal can be done. Meanwhile, Liverpool chiefs have decided Coutinho will receive a Champions League medal for his contribution to this year’s run.