Fulham boss Chris Coleman issued a hands-off warning to rival clubs after watching his two most prized assets play starring roles in the Cottagers’ FA Cup stalemate at Watford.
Luis Boa Morte’s creativity gave him top billing – he was a thorn in Watford’s side throughout the FA Cup third-round clash which ended in a 1-1 draw, despite the Coca-Cola Championship side’s efforts to mark him out of the game.
Close behind him was Steed Malbranque, the tenacious and skilful French midfielder who was restored to the starting line-up only a week ago following a major dip in form.
The pair’s lively performances on Saturday confirmed once again that clubs on the hunt for an attacking midfielder must look no further than south-west London.
Reports last month stated Boa Morte and Malbranque would be the subject of a flurry of bids when the January transfer window reopened, but Fulham have yet to receive any offers from potential suitors.
Newcastle boss Graeme Souness declared on Friday his intent to lure Boa Morte away from Craven Cottage, but Coleman insists there has been no contact from the Scotsman.
“I knew there would be speculation about some of my players signing for other clubs – there’s nothing I can do to stop that. But there hasn’t even been a conversation about any of them,” he said.
“I haven’t had a phone call from Graeme Souness. Anyway even if I did I would tell him none of my players are for sale – full stop. I’ve been told by the chairman we’re not in a position where we have to sell players.”
Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar is another Fulham star who played against Watford yet could be on his way out of the club.
Coleman had no hesitation, however, in selecting the trio for FA Cup duty despite the transfer speculation surrounding them.
“If the players who have been linked with other clubs weren’t right then I wouldn’t have picked them – it would have been insulting to the rest of the team. But they’ve been fantastic,” he said.