Mark Hughes is set to complete his first signing as Fulham manager, with multiple sources reporting the imminent arrival of defender Rafik Halliche.
According to SkySports:
Halliche impressed during the World Cup with Algeria and he is keen on a move to England after an unhappy spell at Benfica.
The 23-year-old has spent the last two seasons on loan at Nacional and Benfica are ready to let him move on.
Halliche is believed to have rejected offers from several other clubs across Europe as he tries to secure a move to West London.
The player’s agent, Ivan Modia, has confirmed a deal is close to being done to take Halliche to Craven Cottage.
With Philippe Senderos ruled out for six months, central defense has become a top priority for Hughes. Halliche should provide depth behind Brede Hangeland and Aaron Hughes. The Algerian center back was particularly impressive in games against England and Slovenia in South Africa, grading out with top marks according to the Castrol Index.
The implications of this move, should it happen, would be thus: added depth to a backline struggling with health issues, and a probable positional change for Chris Baird. While he may still step in on the backline, should Halliche come Fulham’s way, Baird will most certainly see most of his minutes in the center of midfield, especially when Senderos returns from injury.
Meanwhile, SkySports are also heralding Fulham as favorites to land AZ Alkmaar’s 23-year-old Belgian striker Moussa Dembele. Dembele had a down year in 2009-10, but he netted 10 goals in 23 appearances a season earlier and could provide some goal-scoring potential beside Bobby Zamora.
Now, if only Hughes could bring a central midfielder to the Cottage.