Celtic reject Fulham’s bid for Boyata

Celtic have rejected Fulham’s £9m offer for centre back Deydrick Boyata, according to reports this afternoon.

The Scottish giants are determined to hold onto the Belgian international, who starred during the early stages of this summer’s World Cup, and remain hopeful that the former Manchester City defender may yet extend his contract at Celtic Park. Boyata, who has won three successive titles since moving north of the border from Manchester City, has less than a year to go on his current deal – and Fulham’s scouts watched him extensively in Russia, where he deputised for Vincent Kompany at the heart of the Belgian defence.

Fulham are intent on bringing in additional cover at centre back, given the impending suspension of Denis Odoi and the fact that new signing Alife Mawson is likely to miss the first month of the new season. The Whites are eyeing up another move for Boyata as well as closing in on the loan capture of Arsenal centre back Calum Chambers. The Daily Mail suggests that Fulham are willing to increase their bid for Boyata to around £12m. Whether that offer will be enough to secure the second chance in the Premier League that the imposing defender apparently craves, remains to be seen. A move may be dependent on Celtic securing additional defensive resources themselves, given that Brendan Rodgers currently only has two fit centre halves at his disposal.

‘Seri is an absolute steal’ for Fulham, says Meulensteen

Former Fulham boss Rene Meulensteen believes Fulham have pulled off one of the deals of the summer by signing Jean-Michael Seri.

The Whites broke their transfer record to bring the Ivorian international midfielder, who was close to joining Barcelona a year ago, to the Premier League from Nice and Meulensteen waxed lyrical about his qualities on BBC Radio 5 Live last night. The Dutch coach, who spent just 75 days at Craven Cottage in their last season in the top flight, told Five Live Sport:

I tell you what, Jean-Michael Seri … an absolute steal, in my opinion. He is a top six, if not a top three player. He reminds me of Clarence Seedorf – he’s got that guile and moves the ball – and Fulham’s got him. Fantastic.

Meulensteen was also full of praise for the achievements of Serbian head coach Slavisa Jokanovic both in guiding the Londoners back to the top flight and impressing upon the club’s ownership the importance of investing big prior to their return.

Jokanovic has been brilliant. What he’s done – he’s gone in and said, ‘Listen if you want to stay in here [the Premier League], we need to make sure we’re covered in all positions and you’re going to give us the best possible chance’. But looking at what they’ve spent and bring Schurrle in as well and now Chambers on loan, they’ve got some good players already, play some good football, so yeah, looking forward to it.

Fulham make £9m bid for Boyata

Fulham have tabled a £9m bid for Celtic defender Deydrick Boyata, according to the Times.

The Belgian defender, who spent six years with Manchester City, has been heavily linked with a move to Craven Cottage all summer. Fulham scouts watched Boyata closely during the World Cup, where he filled in impressively for the injured Vincent Kompany in the early stages of the tournament, and the club consider him as a potential addition to ease their worries in central defence.

The 27 year-old has failed to commit his long-term future to Celtic, despite overtures from Brendan Rodgers, after becoming a crucial part of the Hoops defence during his three seasons in Glasgow. Boyata, who made just twelve league starts for City, is believed to be attracted by the opportunity of another crack at the Premier League after making 92 appearances for the Scottish giants and winning three successive league titles.

Fulham head coach Slavisa Jokanovic has identified central defence as an area of his squad where reinforcements are urgently necessary before the end of the transfer window on Thursday. The Londoners are expected to sign Calum Chambers on loan from Arsenal, with the England international due to have a medical at Motspur Park on Monday, but are keen to add further defensive depth before the start of the new season. It remains to be seen whether Celtic, who signed Boyata for just £1.5m back in 2014, would entertain Fulham’s offer for one of their key players.

Chambers to have Fulham medical tomorrow

Arsenal defender Calum Chambers is due to have a medical at Fulham tomorrow ahead of a proposed season-long loan at Craven Cottage.

The 23 year-old centre back has been a longstanding Fulham target with the Whites’ attempts to sign him on a permanent basis earlier in the summer being rebuffed by new Arsenal manager Unai Emery. Chambers signed a new four-year contract at the Emirates last month, but is willing to join the newly promoted club on loan in order to get regular first team football.

Fulham moved to add reinforcements in defence after it emerged that new signing Alfie Mawson might not make his debut until September as he seeks to build up his fitness following knee surgery. Head coach Slavisa Jokanovic alluded to his desperation to bring in more defensive cover after Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo in their final pre-season friendly and the Londoners made an audacious bid to take Colombian defender Yery Mina on loan from Barcelona late last week.

Chambers, who has won three England senior caps, has made 83 appearances for Arsenal since moving to the Emirates from Southampton in an £18m deal four years ago. His versatility means he could cover at least two problem positions for Fulham – centre back, where the Whites are without Denis Odoi for the first two league games of the season after his sending off in the play-off final, and right back, where there is a lack of experienced cover for Cyrus Christie.

Fulham linked with loan swoop for Selnaes

Fulham are interested in taking St Etienne midfielder Ole Selnaes on loan, according to a Sunday Mirror article.

The Whites have contacted the French club to enquire about a season-long loan arrangement for the Norwegian international, although St Etienne are apparently keener on a permanent transfer. The 6ft 2in holding midfielder has won countless plaudits in France since moving from Rosenborg two years ago and has sixteen international caps to his name.

The son of the former Rosenborg goalkeeper Ivan Selnaes, the defensive-minded midfielder is a powerful runner who reads the game excellently and has a strong left foot. He starred for Rosenborg’s junior side before penning a professional deal in 2012 and quickly became an established member of the first-team side. The 24 year-old won the Norwegian double in 2015 and was named the Tippeligaen Player of the Year.

He has made 71 appearances in his two seasons with St Etienne, although the French side are open to selling Selnaes as he has just two years to go on his current contract. Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic highlighted the need for quality back-up to Scottish international Kevin McDonald following yesterday’s friendly with Celta Vigo and the intelligent midfielder might just fit the bill. It remains to be seen if the two clubs can strike an agreement over the terms of a possible transfer before Thursday’s English transfer deadline.

Cairney can’t wait to get going

Tom Cairney can’t wait to lead Fulham out in the Premier League after the Whites finished their pre-season preparations with an entertaining draw against Celta Vigo at Craven Cottage yesterday afternoon.

The Fulham skipper has long said that captaining the club in the top flight would be a dream come true and he believes the tough test ahead will mean that every member of the Fulham squad will have to do their bit. Speaking to FulhamFCTV after the 2-2 with the Spaniards, Cairney said:

 Hopefully we can pack the Cottage and get going. It will be a massive achievement. I think it has been a few years since we were last there and I think the starting eleven will be buzzing to play and the bench will be raring to come on. It’s going to be a massive team effort throughout the season and we’re going to need everyone, including the fans, to get over the last this season.

Cairney believes the workout against a skillful Spanish side who posed Fulham real problems will serve Slavisa Jokanovic’s side well as they head into the final week of training before the big kick off against Crystal Palace.

It was tough in difficult conditions. It was boiling hot, it’s been hot for ages, no pre-season has been like this. We played against a top side, who played great football. That’s sometimes what we’re going to come up against this season – it was a tough test for us before the first game of the season, which is good.

We played good football. I think there’s still a lot of things to work on, defensively and going forward. Pre-season’s hard, hopefully the new boys can settle in and we can get more used to them. We played some good football and hopefully we can take that into [next Saturday against Crystal] Palace.

The Scottish international hailed the return of Aleksandar Mitrovic, who opening the scoring early on with a sublime strike and then laid on a second for Aboubakar Kamara. Cairney feels the Serbian’s physical presence lends an entirely different dimension to the Fulham attack:

I think it’s great for us to have him back. I think we wanted him back as soon as the [play-off] final finished in May. It was a great start for us within the first five minutes, so long may that continue. It’s brilliant. We’ve got a target man, someone who can roll defenders and you know he can finish. There’s not many of them around and I’m just glad he’s in a Fulham shirt.

Jokanovic seeks further Fulham signings

Slavisa Jokanovic has insisted that Fulham’s summer transfer business ‘is definitely not done’ and has warned the club’s board not to make him improvise in the Premier League with the new season a week away.

The Cottagers have spent upwards of £70m on new signings since being promoted in May but after their pre-season preparations ended with an entertaining 2-2 draw against Celta Vigo at Craven Cottage this afternoon, Jokanovic identified key positions where his still small squad needs strengthening. The Serbian believes Fulham require reinforcements in defence, an alternative to Kevin McDonald as an anchor in front of the back four and back-up for Aleksandar Mitrovic up front before the window shuts on Thursday.

Speaking after the final whistle, Jokanovic said:

Our business is definitely not done. I’m not the first who complains about transfer business… I’m not complaining. We need some additions. We need backups in some positions. I lost a complete defensive line from last season: Ryan Fredericks, Tomas Kalas, Denis Odoi is suspended, Matt Targett is not here. Only Tim Ream is in the squad. [Maxime] Le Marchand has come from Nice, he’s definitely part of the team but we need to try to strengthen in the next few days ahead of us.

I mentioned many players in the defensive line, I bring [in] only one. You have the opportunity to check the game, you’ll have some kind of opinion about the squad. This is the situation. We have time ahead of us, but we must be fast.

I’m confident we’re going to be working hard. I’m confident this team is working hard. These players need more help. That’s simple. My defensive line is not complete. The club know and they’re ready to make movement. I don’t have a player who can play in McDonald’s position. After Mitrovic? That player doesn’t exist. We can improvise – it wouldn’t be the first time for me – but if you’re improvising in the Premier League the price can be expensive

Fulham held by Celta Vigo in final friendly

Fulham’s pre-season schedule ended with a curious game in glorious sunshine against a skillful Celta Vigo side that could be read in contrasting ways. On the positive side, Slavisa Jokanovic’s side looked threatening going forward, composed in possession and their manipulation of the football is enhanced by this summer’s acquisitions. But the Serbian would have been perturbed at just how easy his team were to carve open and frustrated by the calamitous marking at set plays that twice allowed the Spaniards back into a pulsating game.

In truth, Celta could have wrapped up an impressive victory had their had a finisher of any note. In a match notable for its intensity and tempo on an oppressively hot afternoon on the banks of the Thames, both sides played attacking and progressive football from the outset. Fulham established an early lead through a fine Aleksandar Mitrovic strike and then re-established their advantage courtesy of an excellent finish from Aboubakar Kamara, but some sloppy defending allowed Celta Vigo back into the contest.

The Spanish side stroked the ball around magnificently and the movement of their front three was mesmerising at times, with the fluidity causing constant problems for Tim Ream and Maxime Le Marchand at the heart of the Fulham defence. The understanding between the highly-rated Pione Sisto, Dennis Eckert and former Liverpool forward Iago Aspas proved strong – and had the three of them been more clinical in their finishing then the damage to Fulham’s confidence ahead of their Premier League opener against Crystal Palace next week would have been far more consequential.

The hosts took the lead through a beautifully worked goal with Tim Ream, Andre Schurrle and Mitrovic all involved. The Serbian striker, making his first start at the Cottage since joining from Newcastle on a permanent basis last week, produced a finish of exquisite quality after a superb stepover and turn took him away from his marker – bending a low shot into the bottom right corner from the edge of the box.

Fulham’s fragility at the back has been a cause for concern throughout a demanding pre-season schedule and Celta took less than three minutes to strike back. A poor clearance from Fabri surrendered possession in a dangerous area and Hugo Mallo’s floated cross was headed home brilliantly by Eckret. The visitors might have gone in front on ten minutes when Aspas played in Sisto, but Fabri stood up well to save.

Just as Celta were growing into the game, Fulham struck again following another sweeping move from left to right. Mitrovic did well to link play with Tom Cairney, turned again and located the onrushing Kamara who sprinted into the inside right position and fired swiftly into the far corner from the edge of the box. It was a composed finish of real quality from the French forward, who has improved immeasurably under Jokanovic’s tutelage and must stand an excellent chance of retaining his starting place next week.

Mitrovic almost latched onto an outstanding through ball from Cairney to surge through on goal, but – in an end-to-end passage of play – Celta came close to snatching a second equaliser. Mallo rattled the crossbar with a header than bounced down onto the goalline after a deep cross from Sisto. The hosts’ reprieve didn’t last until half-time after a clumsy Kamara foul gifted the Spaniards a free-kick right on the edge of the box and Cabral punished some non-existent marking to power a free header past Fabri far too easily.

The La Liga side had by far the better of the second period. Eckret’s eye-catching dexterity allowed him to link up with Sisto well inside the Fulham box, but the Danish winger’s wild shot landed in the Putney End. Fulham replied in kind, with Mitrovic’s strength and determination seeing him hold off Facundo Roncaglia, turn and guide a shot wide of the far post from inside the six-yard box. It was the sort of chance the powerful forward will need to take on a regular basis in the top flight this term.

The Whites were then indebted to Fabri who made a fine save to deny Claudio Beauvue, who had sprinted clear of the remnants of the Fulham defence to threaten a late winner. The final few minutes were played out with all the blood and thunder of a competitive fixture. Jokanovic’s charges went searching for a winner but the closest they came was an optimistic shot from Kevin McDonald that flew well over the bar after a concerted spell of Fulham possession.

FULHAM (4-3-3): Fabri; Christie (Fossey 79),  R. Sessegnon, Le Marchand, Ream; McDonald, Seri, Cairney (Johansen 60); Kamara, Schurrle (Sessegnon 68′), Mitrovic (Kebano 79′). Subs (not used): L. Ashby-Hammond, Odoi, Cisse, Fonte.

GOALS: Mitrovic (3), Kamara (17).

CELTA VIGO (3-4-3): Alvarez; Roncaglia (Roz 90), Araujo (Costas 62), Cabral (Mor 45); Mallo (Vasquez 80), Lobotka, Beltran (Jozabed 62), Junca (Mazan 80); Aspas (Hjulsager 62), Eckret (Beauvue 62), Sisto (Mendez 62). Subs (not used): Garcia, Fernandez, Villar.

GOALS: Eckret (7), Cabral (42)

Odoi relishing his Premier League chance

Denis Odoi is relishing his opportunity to play Premier League football this season – especially after being told by his school teachers that he no chance of becoming a professional footballer.

The Belgian international insists that he was never out looking to prove wrong a PE teacher who was trying to encourage him to concentrate on his education and doesn’t regret making the move to Craven Cottage two summers ago – even though it might have looked like a backward step at the time. Odoi told Football.London’s Ryan O’Donovan:

To get the chance, it’s not like I was out for revenge for anything. I just played and started in the second division in Belgium and went one step higher, then higher at Anderlecht and I took a step back and came to Fulham to play in England – it didn’t matter if it was Championship. It’s not like I felt I was too good to play in the Championship and then we had two good seasons. The first year was a good one and it matured us as a team and then the second season we got to the final and made it.

I think because you’re playing in [the] Championship you don’t get the recognition because you’re in the second tier but now everyone is in the Premier League so it’s up to them to show everybody that they’re worthy of playing in that league.

Odoi is adamant that Fulham should stick to the style of football that earned them promotion from the Championship, despite being under no illusions that this season will represent a stern test of the Whites’ footballing principles.

I think the experience we had from last season, playing in semi-finals and finals, play our game because that’s the way we know how to play. It’s the way we will take points. If we try to play a different style that we aren’t used to then it’ll probably turn out bad.

I have some friends that play in the Premier League and they say our style will suit it, but it’s still up to us to show it. We know that we’re better with the ball than without it and we won’t be dominating the game all the time so that’s where we need to work hard.

The level will be higher and we need to dig in and stick together and realise that we won’t be playing the same football as we played last year and that we won’t be dominating every game with 60% to 70% ball possession. So we also need to work hard off the ball and that will be the biggest lesson for us and that’s where we need to get better.

We need to keep faith and remember last season that we had a bad start and we finished near the top. So if the start isn’t the way we planned, we still know that things can turn around – it’s a higher level, but we need to be patient and work hard and hopefully we will get the points we deserve and work for.

The utility man will miss Fulham’s Premier League opener against Crystal Palace next weekend through suspension after being sent off in the play-off final at Wembley, but Odoi’s versatility means he is likely to be a key part of Slavisa Jokanovic’s squad throughout the campaign.

Edun makes Ipswich loan move

Fulham’s promising young midfielder Tayo Edun has today joined Ipswich Town on a season-long loan deal.

The versatile 20 year-old was likely to find his first-team opportunities limited this season following Fulham’s promotion to the Premier League and had previously undertaken a trial with MLS side Portland Timbers. Edun, who primarily operates now as a defensive midfielder but can also play at left back or on the left side of midfield, has made six senior appearances for the Whites after coming through the club’s academy. He was also a regular for Fulham’s under 23 side, scoring two goals in twelve games.

He made an impressive debut at Leyton Orient in the League Cup win in August 2016 and was excellent when drafted into the midfield to face Derby County in the Championship last season. He would have faced serious competition for a first-team chance this year given Fulham’s strength in the midfield areas and is likely to go straight into Ipswich’s squad for their opening Championship fixture of the season against Blackburn Rovers tomorrow.

The European Under 19 championship winner is highly-rated and Motspur Park and Fulham believe regular Championship first-team football could prove crucial to his development.