Anguissa agrees Fulham move

Fulham have reached an agreement with Marseille midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa over a move to the Premier League, according to reports in France this morning.

The Whites held extensive talks with the Cameroonian international and his representatives and have agreed a long-term contract with the holding midfielder. It is believed that the fee for the 22 year-old will be in the region of £26m and Anguissa will have a medical in Marseille later today.

The powerful midfielder, who has won eleven caps for his country, has enjoyed a whirlwind two years in the south of France after being brought in from Reims. He was a key part of the Marseille side that reached last season’s Europa League final – where they were beaten by Atletico Madrid – and has told the French press that he has carefully modelled his game on that of former Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure.

The deal was struck after head coach Slavisa Jokanovic made clear he needed another defensive midfielder to challenge Scottish international Kevin McDonald, one of Fulham’s key players in their promotion from the Championship, as they prepare to return to the top flight this season. It follows Fulham’s breaking of their transfer record to bring in Ivorian international Jean-Michael Seri from Nice earlier in the summer.

Bryan having Fulham medical

Bristol City full-back Joe Bryan is having a medical this morning ahead of his proposed move to Fulham.

The 24 year-old defender looks set to become Slavisa Jokanovic’s latest signing of a busy summer after having a dramatic change of heart last night. Bryan was poised to join Aston Villa for around £6m and had travelled to Birmingham to undergo a medical with the Championship side, before Fulham entered the bidding and offered him a shot at the Premier League. The left back reportedly pulled out of the deal and headed to London to meet with the Whites.

Jokanovic has identified the recruitment of a new left back as pivotal to Fulham’s Premier League prospects as it would allow teenage sensation Ryan Sessegnon to line up as a left winger. Fulham switched their attention to Bryan, one of their early summer targets, after failing to tempt Southampton into selling Matt Targett, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Craven Cottage.

Bryan, who has made more than 200 appearances for Bristol City and scored in their famous League Cup quarter-final win over Manchester United last season, is an attack-minded full back who will fit Jokanovic’s system. Fulham are likely to be busy on deadline day with Spanish goalkeeper Sergio Rico set to arrive on loan from Sevilla and talks ongoing between the club and Marseille midfielder Andre Zambo Aguissa.

Fulham in talks with Anguissa

Marseille midfielder Andre Zambo Anguissa has flown to London to hold talks with Fulham over a possible £25m transfer deadline day move, according to the Daily Mail.

The Cameroon international has been linked with a transfer to a number of European clubs after emerging as one of Europe’s brightest midfield talents since making his breakthrough at Marseille. The 22 year-old established himself in Les Olympiens’ first team during an excellent 2016/2017 and then was a key part of the side that reached the Europa League final last term, where they lost to Atletico Madrid.

The defensive midfielder, who has won eleven caps for his country, made 36 league appearances last season as Marseille finished fourth in Ligue 1. He credits his club coach Rudi Garcia for gradually turning him into more of a box-to-box midfielder and his rampaging style has been described by L’Equipe as being made for the Premier League. Anguissa, who counts former Manchester City Yaya Toure as among his heroes and has admitted that he would be attracted by the prospect of playing in England.

Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic has highlighted the anchor role in midfield as an area where the club need reinforcements – reminding the press after last Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo that he does not have a top quality understudy for Scottish international Kevin McDonald. Capturing Anguissa would continue the newly-promoted club’s eye-catching summer transfer window, which has already seen them surprise most of Europe by swooping for Nice midfielder Jean-Michael Seri.

Fulham launch late Bryan bid

Fulham have made a dramatic late attempt to hijack Bristol City full back Joe Bryan’s impending move to Aston Villa, according to reports this evening.

The 24 year-old left back had undergone a medical with Villa this afternoon and looked set to complete a rumoured £6m move to the Midlands, but the Premier League new boys have placed that transfer in jeopardy by tabling an offer of their own this evening. The Bristol Post says that Fulham’s approach has been rejected by Bristol City, but that the Whites may come in with another offer and that City are willing to wait until the dying embers of the transfer window in order to secure the best deal for their defender.

Slavisa Jokanovic is desperate to bring a left back to Craven Cottage in the closing hours of the summer window to allow Ryan Sessegnon to line up on the left wing when the Londoners kick off their season against Crystal Palace on Saturday. Bryan, who enjoyed an outstanding season with Bristol City in the Championship last term, has been on Fulham’s radar all summer and the Cottagers appear to have returned with interest after their attempts to lure Matt Targett away from Southampton have floundered.

Bryan, an attack-minded full back of the kind that is in vogue in the modern game, scored seven goals in 48 appearances last season as the Reds reached the League Cup semi-finals – famously scoring the first goal as Manchester United were beaten in the last eight tie at Ashton Gate. He has made 229 senior appearances since coming through the City academy and helped the club win both the League One title and the Football League Trophy in 2014/2015.

Fulham won’t be selling Ryan Sessegnon, tweets Tony Khan

Fulham vice chairman Tony Khan has dismissed speculation of a deadline day exit for Ryan Sessegnon, tweeting that the club has no intention of selling the teenage left winger.

Khan, who is also the club’s director of football operations, tweeted in response to feverish speculation surrounding Sessegnon’s future:

Fulham are still intending to strengthen their squad before tomorrow’s transfer deadline. The Whites are reportedly close to bringing in Sevilla goalkeeper Sergio Rico on loan and have made an offer for Celta Vigo captain Hugo Mallo. It is rumoured that they are considering returning with a further bid for Southampton left back Matt Targett, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Craven Cottage.

Fulham nearing loan swoop for Sergio Rico

Sevilla goalkeeper Sergio Rico is poised to join Fulham on a season-long loan deal tomorrow, according to reports in the Spanish press.

Rico, who has won two Europa League titles with Sevilla, is set to leave the Spanish side after they completed the capture of Tomas Vaclik from Basel. The 24 year-old goalkeeper, who has been heavily linked with a move to Liverpool and Chelsea among others in the past year, has made more than 100 appearances for Sevilla since coming through their academy and was the Andalusian side’s number one last season.

Spanish sports newspaper AS says Sevilla are happy to let the fan favourite leave, although there is no option to buy in the proposed deal. Rico’s arrival would make him the second Spanish goalkeeper that Fulham have bought during the transfer window, after the Whites signed Fabri from Besiktas for £5m earlier this summer. What this surprise move might mean for Marcus Bettinelli, who was Fulham’s first choice goalkeeper as they won promotion back to the Premier League last season, remains to be seen. The Fulham academy graduate is currently injured, but looked likely to play second fiddle to Fabri in the early part of the season in any case.

Rico, widely regarded as one of Europe’s most promising young goalkeepers, has a single cap for Spain, which came in a friendly win over South Korea back in 2016.

Mitrovic will be ‘crucial,’ claims Mawson

Alfie Mawson believes Aleksandar Mitrovic will be ‘crucial’ to Fulham’s prospects as they return to the Premier League this season.

Fulham’s new signing might be set to miss at least the first month of the new season but he has enjoyed watching the former Newcastle United striker pick up off where he left off at Craven Cottage last term. Mawson, speaking to Talksport this afternoon, shared his enjoyment of Mitrovic’s pre-season exploits and believes his fellow centre halves won’t be looking forward to facing Fulham’s number nine this season:

He is a big man! He’s 23 years old and built like a body builder and is as strong as an ox. Against Celta Vigo on Saturday, their centre half has looked to go tight on him – but he’s thrown the defender off the ball and wrapped one in from about 25 yards. It’s always good to have that because this club is renowned for its ball playing ability but to have a target man like him will be crucial this season.

The former Swansea City defender also feels that German winger Andre Schurrle is ready to make his mark on English football again after an underwhelming spell with Borussia Dortmund.

Schurrle obviously speaks for himself. He’s a World Cup winner and has played at some top clubs. He’s been in London in his career already and he’s made a decision to come to a club that is more suited to him. We’re expecting a lot from him and he’s going to thrive off that.

Lydia’s Premier League Preview

It feels very good getting to write a Premier League Preview this season, am I right? As much as I will miss the unpredictability and drama of the Championship (just take last nights game between Nottingham Forest and West Brom as an example of the dramatic) it is so exciting to be once again competing against some of the Worlds best.

I was planning on putting this piece up after the transfer window slams shut tomorrow evening but work commitments have gotten in the way of my Fulham recreation so you’ll have to make do with my preview being incomplete in terms of transfers.

Premier League Champions 2018/19 – Manchester City

For the second season in a row I just can’t look past Manchester City as the overall winners, but I do think their competition will be closer this year. With the remarkable money that Liverpool have spent they really have to challenge this year and if they can keep Salah fit and allow the new boys to adapt then they could do some damage. However, I still think that City have the better squad and under Pep they are unplayable at times. Last year they weren’t challenged so it will be interesting to see if they can handle a title threat, but with the way they just kept blowing teams out of the water I just can’t see anyone taking the trophy off them.

Most Improved – West Ham United

After an awful season where they nearly dropped down to the Championship and had fan protest on the pitch as well as off it, the Hammers and heavily invested in their squad. Pellegrini is a good manager and they have backed him wisely. They finished 13th last season, but if things go well with the squad they now have I reckon they could be in Burnley’s position from last season.

Biggest Loser – Burnley and Newcastle United

What I mean by this is the team who drops the most places from last season. It’s really a toss up between Newcastle United and Burnley, but for different reasons.

Burnley will be safe from relegation, but often when a team plays in Europe for the first time their league form suffers so I can see them dropping as many as five places from 7th to 12th. Losing Nick Pope to injury was a blow and it’s now down to Joe Hart, who has had a rough few years, to fill the gap. Ben Gibson was a bit of a strange signing and won’t massively improve them while Matej Vydra could prove to be a shrewd piece of business if he can find the net even nearly as frequently as he did in the Championship. Smallish squad, possible European commitments and the fact that they overachieved last season means that they will drop places, but will still be comfortably safe.

Newcastle, on the other hand, could be in for a torrid season and I fully expect them to be in a relegation battle. There are worse squads out there so I’m not backing them for relegation but this could change if Benitez decides that enough is enough. I feel for Newcastle fans, as they have the size and stature of a club that could be real heavyweights, but their owner seems to have no desire to improve the squad leading to frustration on and off the pitch.

Relegation looming – Cardiff, Huddersfield and Brighton

Second season syndrome for both Huddersfield and Brighton, while Cardiff could go straight back down. I think it will be a real scrap with a lot of teams in the mix come May which could make for an absorbing, but at times stressful, battle. Watford have lost Richarlison but his replacement in Deulofeu was a decent piece of business. Crystal Palace have brought in Max Meyer and Cheikhou Kouyate so I feel that they will have enough to avoid the drop. Wolves and ourselves, despite having brilliant windows, could be brought back down to earth when up against better opposition. Both sides should stay up, but it isn’t going to be plain sailing.

I just don’t think Brighton or Huddersfield have done enough in the tranfser window to really improve from last year while others have. Brighton may have brought in plenty of faces, but we know that it is about quality rather than quantity and none of the signings really stand out in comparison to other clubs who could be in the mix. Cardiff have brought in four players who I would be thrilled with if I was building a team for promotion from the Championship rather than Premier League survival. They should be tough to beat, but I don’t think that’s enough.

And what about Fulham?

Finally Premier League football returns to the banks of the Thames and Fulham have thankfully invested in their squad as well as keeping Cairney, Sess and Mitro away from prying eyes. Slav seems to be reasonably happy despite not having cover for the defensive midfield position- and ‘reasonably happy’ is likely the best that we can hope for from the moody Serb. The signings of Schurrle and Seri in particular seem to have shown Fulham desire to stay in this division for a long time, while bringing in Mawson and Chambers should improve one of the weaker aspects of our squad. I’m absolutely buzzing to see Ryan Sessegnon finally grace the Premier League and fully back him to make an impact.

We have to be realistic though. Our first target will be getting points on the board early to help us along to the goal of survival. Without a doubt there will be more losses than last year and we won’t have the same levels of possession as we became accustomed to throughout our stint in the Championship. But I do think that we have plenty of reasons to be confident and I expect us to be safe- at least- come May.

Bring it on.

#COYW

Fulham ‘felt right,’ says Chambers

Calum Chambers says that he was ‘really excited’ when he learned that Fulham wanted to sign him earlier in the summer and that a move to the Cottagers ‘just felt right’.

Speaking to FulhamFCTV after completing his season-long loan move from Arsenal, the centre back revealed that he had been an avid watcher of the Whites’ promotion campaign last season and that the style of football Slavisa Jokanovic has implemented at Craven Cottage will suit his game.

I’m really excited. I watched a lot of Fulham play last season. I really liked the way they played football, there’s a good manager, it’s a great club and I’m really excited for the season ahead. Everyone can see that Fulham’s a club that likes to play football – play football from the back, through the lines, that’s the style of football I like to play as well so I think it fits me and suits the way I play. I like to think of myself as a centre back who’s good on the ball.

The England international also revealed that he knew Marcus Bettinelli and Alfie Mawson from England under-21 duty in the past and has quickly been made to feel welcome at the club’s Motspur Park training ground.

It’s always helpful to have some familiar faces around when you come in. To come in and have a catch up with them was nice. I know a few of the boys here. I’ve met all of the boys now and it seems like a really good group. When I heard Fulham were interested in me, I was really happy and I wanted to come. The style of play and everything, it felt right.

Chambers admits he has ambitions to add to his three senior international caps, but his primary focus is getting his loan spell off to a good start.

For me, first off I want to do well for Fulham. I want to come here, I want to show everyone what I can do and, obviously, a long-term goal would be get back in the England squad as well. But my first aim is to come to Fulham and do well for the team and give everything I can.

The 23 year-old, who is Fulham’s third defensive signing of a busy summer transfer window, believes that the club’s new-found strength in depth is important as they look to manage the step up to the top flight.

Competition for places is huge. It keeps everyone on their toes and makes everyone perform at their best ability. Players coming in is going to make everyone push themselves to be the best they can be. I’ve played quite a few games now and I want to come here and show the experience I’ve gained in the past. I just want to help the team and do the best I can.

Chambers isn’t taking any for granted and knows Fulham will be in for a tough test as they open their campaign against Crystal Palace on Saturday, with the Eagles managed by former Fulham boss Roy Hodgson.

It won’t be an easy game. First game of the season – anything can happen, but we’ve got to be assured in the way we want to play, see what happens and give everything we can. If you’ve got to be patient, we’ll move the ball, wait for your opportunities and when those opportunities come, you’ve got to take them. The Premier League’s not an easy league so every game’s tough, but I’m really excited for it.

Chambers joins Fulham on loan

Fulham have confirmed the signing of England international defender Calum Chambers from Arsenal on a season-long loan this evening.

The 23 year-old was one of the newly-promoted club’s first targets but they couldn’t meet Arsenal’s £23m valuation to secure a permanent deal. The former Southampton centre back joins on loan instead, just a few weeks after signing a new four-year contract with the Gunners, and media reports suggest that he has been promised regular first-team football at Craven Cottage.

Slavisa Jokanovic was keen to draft in extra defensive reinforcements given that new signing Alfie Mawson is likely to miss the first month of the new season after undergoing knee surgery earlier this summer. The Whites will also be without the suspended Denis Odoi for the first two games of the season, so it is entirely possible that Chambers will make his Fulham debut against Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon.

The versatile defender, who can also play at right back or in midfield, came through Southampton’s academy and made his professional debut for the Saints at the age of 17. His mature displays in the 2013/2014 season, which included 22 Premier League appearances, earned him a big-money to Arsenal, where he has played 83 games and won the FA Cup in 2015.

Chambers told Fulham’s official website this evening:

I’m really excited. I watched a lot of Fulham last season, I really like the way they play football, there’s a good manager, it’s a great club, so I’m really excited for the season ahead. Everyone can see that Fulham’s a club that likes to play football, play football from the back, through the lines. That’s the style of football I like as well, so I think it fits me and suits the way I play.

Fulham’s head of football of operations, Tony Khan, said:

I’m very pleased to announce that Calum Chambers has joined Fulham Football Club on loan. Calum is a versatile defender with Premier League experience, and the combination of his strong data profile and the positive reports from our scouting department confirm that he’s a tremendous talent. We fully expect Calum to contribute and are very happy to welcome him to our squad.