It’s been two weeks since my last article, and it’s safe to say there hasn’t been a dull moment for Fulham fans in the transfer window to date. Despite not signing anyone just yet, Fulham have certainly been at the centre of the rumour mill.
First of all, it looks like we are having to tighten the purse-strings this summer, with no more parachute payments, and the club haggling more than ever around transfer fees for key targets. This shows that we need to be smart this summer to avoid another FFP sanction and therefore won’t be held to ransom by clubs during negotiations. Even in January, Fulham nearly had a deal over the line for Greek striker, Karamonos who even travelled the London, but a deal couldn’t be agreed for around £1.5m for the Olympiacos man.
Could that happen again this summer? Yes, it can and it will time after time again.
Last season, Fulham’s scouting team worked around the clock and made sure they got their targets from all over the world, and although the squad was overhauled, the quality we managed to attract for the money spent was terrific. This summer, there will be more pressure to repeat that level of success, and with Fulham and Chelsea still unable to reach an agreement over star defender, Tomas Kalas, I have the feeling this could be the last we’ve seen of our Czech star in a Fulham shirt.
With Hull City boss, Leonid Slutsky, a close friend of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, It is clear we are going to have tough competition to win the race for such a prized asset.
Although, Kalas would prefer to stay in London for personal reasons, Fulham can’t afford to drop £6-7m on Kalas this year, and I understand that may be tough to read, but it’s the way we have to be while we’re still in the Championship. With Slutsky in London this week and spotted at Stamford Bridge, it’s clear that Hull will be taking an influx of Chelsea top talent this summer – Kalas sadly being one of them.
But in the last 48 hours, Fulham have seemingly moved on to another defensive target, with Copenhagen captain, Mathias ‘Zanka’ Jorgensen being linked with a move to the club for 30m Danish Krone, which roughly equates for £3.5m, a fee that is much closer to the budget we have in comparison to Chelsea’s price-tag for Kalas.
Zanka would be an interesting buy for a number of reasons. He’s now had two spells at Copenhagen, after failing to make an impact with PSV which was the last time he left Denmark. But while he is captain of the Champions league outfit, he does come with a reputation. Speaking to a number of Danish fans and journalists recently, many of them say while he is a talented player and quick across the ground, he has a fiery reputation, and has started a number of fights on the pitch. While, I love a player to have passion, the last thing we want to do is go down to 10 men. But, he’s a talented footballer and it would still be a coup should we manage to get this deal over the line. With just 1 more year on his contract, £3.5m seems like a likely fee, but I’d expect to hear about bids from other clubs shortly, as we won’t be the only club interested.
But, Zanka isn’t the only defender linked with a move to Fulham, with the club continually edging closer to a deal for CD Lugo star, Marcelo Djalo; who in all honesty is a bit of an unknown quality.
What we do know is that he is a powerful presence, standing at 6’4 and while it’d be nice to have another towering presence at the heart of our defence, the difference in quality from Spanish Second Division to the Championship is huge in my opinion. Despite the deal only costing around €1m, I wouldn’t be expecting him to be the first-choice defender. Although, should he be a success, it will only be another sign that our scouting network and transfer policy is rapidly improving. Nonetheless, the defender has had experience at being at big clubs, with stints at Juventus and Real Madrid in the earlier stages of his career and a move to Fulham could be the big platform for him to make his name. At just €1m, I’d welcome the move even though none of us would know what to expect, it’s another face in the squad and which is threadbare at the moment, and we’ll need players to rotate for all competitions.
As I said at the start of the article, it’s been a busy fortnight for Fulham and never more so in the rumours linking us with a centre forward. After being heavily linked with Montpeiller forward, Steve Mounie again, I think it’s safe to say that he will not be joining us this summer.
While our interest in the Beninese forward is clear for everyone to see, the €13m price tag is something we won’t be entertaining. Despite Huddersfield signing Laurent Depoitre from Porto, Nahki Wells is expected to leave the Yorkshire club and therefore I’d expect Mounie to hold talks with David Wagner sooner rather than later. Speaking of which, Nahki Wells would be a striker that I’d love to see at the club and someone I watched very closely during his time at Bradford City. With a rumoured £8m valuation, it could be still be very good value for money, but with the Bermudan linked with a move to Burnley, we couldn’t compete with the Premier League opportunities that they could offer.
Nevertheless, Steve Mounie hasn’t been the only forward being linked with a move to Fulham this summer, with Bordeaux’s Diego Rolan slowly becoming our main transfer target. With Bordeaux reportedly valuing the player around €8-€10m, this is could be more likely to happen. Although, Fulham would want the deal structured around the lower valuation, and heavily off-set with clauses, if the player was keen on a move to England, there’s more chance of this signing coming across the line than Mounie. Despite only scoring 9 goals last year for Bordeaux, Diego Rolan is a top talent. Still only 24 years old, the athletic Uruguayan has the ability to score all sorts of goals, and his agility and ability to make runs beyond the final man, will suit Jokanovic’s system perfectly. This is a player that excites me and could be the solution to our striker dilemma, but with Schalke now interested in the player, we’ve got very tough competition for his signature.
Last week, there was also reports linking the club with a move for Braga forward, Rui Fonte, formerly of Arsenal and brother of West Ham defender, Jose Fonte. As I said at the time, the story was a non-starter, and the media quickly denied any suggestion that a move could happen. Even though I expect the club to be scouting heavily in the Portuguese and Belgian leagues, I’d be hoping that our standards were set higher than Rui Fonte, an average player that isn’t a traditional forward. Despite his 11 goals last term, he wouldn’t have been the player to lead the line, so I’m glad this story is over.
But, to conclude our conversation on Fulham strikers, the club have extended the contract of Cauley Woodrow. The England U21 star, impressed during his loan spell at Burton last season, and I’d be very interested to see what happens to him in the next 12 months. A hard-working forward could suit the way Slav wants to play, but in reality I feel we have extended the contract to add more money to his price-tag, and with Burton keen to make it a permanent deal, don’t be surprised if he returned to Burton Albion this summer.
Nevertheless, I don’t think that Cauley Woodrow would be our only departure this summer if he was to leave. Richard Stearman and Denis Odoi are also expected to depart this summer and with interest mounting rapidly in George Williams I expect them all to be at their new clubs before the end of July. As for replacing Odoi at right-back, Fulham have been linked with a move for Bastia defender, Alexander Dijiku. Considering Bastia have been relegated this year, any proposed move I would hope to be on the cheap side, especially as we are only gaining around €1m for Odoi’s return to Belgium. Although Dijiku’s highlight reel consists most of his roulette on Marco Verratti, Odoi was a tremendous servant to club and played an important role, and his boots will be tough to fill.
Finally, as expected this summer was always going to take us fans on a rollercoaster, and so far it has delivered on that. I know it’s hard to not get carried away when the likes of Rolan are linked, but let’s just take a deep breath for second (I’ll try and do the same).
There’s still a long way to go until the first game of the season, and I have trust in the club to deliver the same level of quality that they did last year. Plus, Kalas was a surprise announcement last year, so I have complete faith that there are many deals happening that haven’t come to the public eye just yet!
I’m quietly confident that this will be a strong summer for the club as we look for promotion next season.
Thank you ever so much for reading, and your ongoing support. Please do share the article online with your friends and fellow fans, and please don’t hesitate to contact me on Twitter – @ABronsSmith