The season is over, and it is time for the summer transfer madness to begin.
After the season that Fulham have had, don’t be surprised when Fulham’s stars are at the heart of many rumours.
There’s plenty of interest in the players that stood out this season at Craven Cottage, but what must be remembered is that the club are aware of the talent they possess, and will make sure that they keep the spine of this squad together with the aim of promotion next year.
Personally, I do think that if a bid of around £20m came in for Cairney or £15m for Ryan Sessegnon, the club would have to consider it but considering there are only a few clubs that could pay those fees, I do expect Fulham fans to be happy with the business in a few months’ time.
Realistically, I can see the club looking to add three or four new faces this year, with hopefully one of those being the permanent signing of Tomas Kalas from Chelsea this summer. The Czech international formed a key part of the side and was a one man Thames Barrier at times for Slavisa Jokanovic, and with only 1 year left on his current deal at Chelsea, hopefully a permanent agreement can be made. But, that ball is firmly in Chelsea’s court for that deal, with the player costing our neighbours £5m a number of years ago. With Chelsea’s history of selling, it would be very hard to imagine Chelsea selling such a talented defender at a loss. Yes, he may not be in the plans of Antonio Conte, but this is a club that sold Oscar for £60m, Luiz for £50m and Begovic for a profit considering he has hardly played since his move. With this in mind, I’d imagine the fee for Kalas to be around £6m should he be sold this summer.
As for our other loanee from Chelsea, Lucas Piazon I honestly don’t know what his future is. The Brazilian was a bit of a shock signing last year, and initially joined the club on a 6 month loan deal after a mediocre season with Reading. Expecting Lucas to be a bit part player, I was surprised at how well he settled and took his chances when called upon. While I agree there are better players out there than Piazon, his passion and understanding of the football we play is highly beneficial and if the right price can be agreed, then I would welcome him back next year with open arms.
As for our final loanee, Chris Martin I’d be very surprised to see him back at Craven Cottage next season. Despite the £6m agreed price-tag incorporated in his loan spell, the Scottish forward signed a new contract at Derby, but stranger things have happened in football, and with Rowett now in charge of our Championship rivals, who knows if he is part of their long-term plans now McClaren has departed.
A very nervy summer for Martin awaits.
But, just like last year I’m expecting Fulham to shop abroad and to dive straight back into the Belgian market. The signings of Denis Odoi and Neeskens Kebano were a success, and while the Congolese forward took longer to settle, his impact on the side was noticeable scoring vital goals in the second half of the season.
Although Kebano is expected to stay and continue his development, our other signing from the Belgian League last season, Denis Odoi is expected to depart. Talks have begun between Fulham and Gent over a transfer, despite the full-back scoring twice and appearing over 30 times for Fulham this season. It’ll be a shame to see Odoi leave after just one year, as he played a more important role than many may think, filling the gap effortlessly left when Fredericks was injured or suspended and to find another full-back to fill a back-up role to Fredericks with the quality that Odoi has will be a very tough task this summer.
There were rumours that Gent star, Thomas Foket would be part of any potential deal for Odoi but with a number of top European clubs interested in the midfielder, it would be a coup should he swap clubs with Odoi this summer.
Foket hasn’t been the only rumoured transfer target this summer, with the likes of Vicari, Jackson Irvine and Jordan Hugill all being a ‘reported’ target this summer for Slavisa Jokanovic and the board. While Vicari seems unlikely, it is interesting to be linked with Burton star, Irvine and Preston forward, Hugill as both seem rather uninspiring to me. While they may be players that work hard on the pitch, I would be hoping that the club focus on a higher quality of footballer this year.
While I appreciate that the money may be tight this summer due to Financial Fair Play, there is still a lot of business we can do. Should we lose Sessegnon to Spurs which seems to be linked by another outlet every day, we could splash the cash further. But, Sessegnon is expected for further talks with Fulham this month about his long-term aims, and I have a good feeling he may well sign a longer deal sooner rather than later.
As mentioned earlier, there will be plenty of interest in our key players this summer and they will form a part of the rumour mill on most days but take those stories with a pinch of salt.
First of all, there will be interest in Kevin McDonald after his stunning debut season, but considering the club paid £1.25m for him last summer, it would take a sizeable fee to see him depart and rumours that he is a £2m target for Nottingham Forest, Rangers & Brighton are way wide of the post. Considering he was a player of the year candidate and a vital cog in our team, any interested party would have to pay in the region of £5m for the club to entertain it.
There’s no chance that the board would sell a prized asset for just £750,000 profit after the season he has had.
As for Marcus Bettinelli being linked to Chelsea, this isn’t a story that is going to go away so quickly. The former England U21 goalkeeper has been scouted by Chelsea on a number of occasions and their interest in the player is high.
But, with Bettinelli regaining his place in the side at the tail end of the season, his next move will depend on where he stands in Jokanovic’s plans for the next twelve months. But, if I’m truly honest, I’d rather see Button depart than Bettinelli, as Marcus proved to be the better keeper with his sensational performances after his injury.
Finally, in an ideal world, I’d love to see Tomas Kalas return, and for Fulham to offer another Chelsea youth player a chance too in the shape of Lewis Baker. The young England U21 midfielder has experienced a few loan spells now, but after 15 goals in 39 games for Vitesse this season, he could suit our style and add real quality to our side. Then again, there will be Premier League interest in the young midfielder, especially after the U21 fixtures this summer but considering the success of Kalas and Piazon’s loans, we could provide the perfect place for Baker to make a name for himself in English football. While this is a far-fetched dream, I’d love to see it happen as I truly feel he has all the qualities needed to succeed in the modern game.
To conclude, it’s still very early days in this window and knowing Fulham like we do, they will do all their business on the quiet and probably most of it in July; and while that may be frustrating for some fans, have patience and faith in the recruitment team because last year they done a tremendous job of creating a side that our fans can be proud of once again.
Thank you ever so much for reading. Please feel free to tweet your thoughts to me @ABronsSmith