It’s been a productive week for Fulham with the announcements of Floyd Ayite for €2m and just on Friday, the signing of Sone Aluko was confirmed.
What’s clear from the two confirmed signings, is that Fulham finally boast a squad that has options out wide with natural pace. Despite, Aluko being a bit part player over the last few years at Hull City, he can operate in wide areas and combining his pace with Ayite and Fredericks, Fulham should be dangerous on the break in the upcoming season.
If you haven’t seen it already, I strongly recommend you listening to Aluko’s welcome video, ‘Same Ambitions’ here. While being a versatile attacker, Aluko mentions that he has been told the position he will be playing throughout the season, which suggests Jokanovic already has a starting eleven in mind for Newcastle. Even though Fulham lost the services of Moussa Dembele earlier in the summer transfer window, both Ayite and Aluko’s attacking threat will soften the impact of Dembele’s departure, but this does not mean that Fulham no longer need a partner for the talismanic, Ross McCormack.
The reason for Fulham still needing another striker is simple. McCormack cannot play as the lone striker. McCormack’s impact on the game is limited when played in a formation that isn’t 3-5-2 or 4-4-2 and we have seen this proven time and time again during the managerial merry go around of the last two years.
McCormack is a top quality number 10 in all honesty, and requires that number 9 to run beyond defenders and create space for him to operate, even if McCormack was a part of a three pronged-attack next season, his effect would still be limited with there being no potential target man/outlet, should that 3 some be Aluko, Ayite & McCormack.
But, as stated in previous blog posts, Fulham have a plan and that has been clear from the moment our safety was confirmed in the Championship last season.
Fulham have generally steered away from publicly chase players (excluding the silliness of that Lewis Dunk pursuit) and the arrivals of Ayite and Aluko confirm that, with both going under the radar of the major corporations until the club itself announced the details.
One story that has leaked is our interest in Denis Odoi, a Belgian full-back who is more than capable at operating on either side of a four man setup. While Odoi may not be world renowned, he has a strong career out in Belgium, which has earned him a call up to the Belgian national side over the years.
Although he has played in Belgium for his whole career, Odoi would be an impressive capture by the club if secured – standing at 5’10, the versatile defender would inject much needed pace into the back line and even though he is mainly a right-footed left back, he is more than comfortable to play out from the back – something that Jokanovic admires in a footballer. Fulham are rivalling K.A.A Gent for his signature, but if he decides to play his trade in England, Fulham should announce it by early next week at the latest.
Surprisingly, Fulham were also linked with departing Brentford defender, Jack O’Connell who was guaranteed first-team football at League One side, Sheffield United. Not a great loss, but it’s just proof that so much is happening behind the scenes.
The future is bright, and I know it can be tough sometimes due to the lack of media coverage, but it’s vital that you remember there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes this summer. Jokanovic is travelling to personally meet multiple transfer targets and managing a successful pre-season regime over in Ireland. The club are meant to play a few more friendlies over the upcoming weeks, but an early 5-0 victory over Cobh Ramblers would have raised spirits in the camp, especially for Stephen Humphrys and Dennis Adeniran who effortlessly made the step up into senior football.
If Adeniran and Humphrys continue to impress in pre-season, replacing talent like Dembele, Roberts & Hyndman may be easier than some first imagined. Personally, I’ve been really impressed by both of the youngsters, and even if they don’t feature in the first team in the league; this experience around the starting eleven will only be a positive one for them. It’s also very promising to see Jokanovic place so much faith in these developing footballers at such an early age – it will only benefit the football club in the near future and possibly financially too, should they be sold on at a tidy profit in 3-4 years time.
Just before I finish this blog, I just wanted to clear up these rumours about Griezmann that have surfaced over the last 48 hours.
During January 2014, Fulham were on the market for a striker, and this is why we pursued Mitroglou – he was chased by some of the biggest clubs in Europe, but a niggling knee injury put many of them off, which allowed us to make an offer to the forward. Kostas wasn’t an replacement for a failed bid for Griezmann. Rene admired Griezmann during his time at Real Sociedad, but the Frenchman was a winger and would have only been a bonus to the squad rather than a striker that we was so desperately crying out for due to Darren Bent misfiring and Berbatov leaving. That’s why when quoted £12m, Fulham pulled the plug on a proposed deal as they needed to the funds to recruit a natural goalscorer. While, it may not be relevant now, I thought I’d clarify the doom and gloom around that – Although, Griezmann joined Atletico the following summer for £23m it was Diego Simeone that matured him into the lethal forward he is today. There’s way too many what if’s & maybe, but it’s time to focus on the current squad and life under Slavisa Jokanovic.
Keep the faith, there are still a few new faces to come through the door at Craven Cottage this summer.
Thank you for reading.
Be patient and feel free to tweet your thoughts to me @ABronsSmith.