We’ve only been mourning the end of the season for three full days now and yet, Fulham have already signed up three players for next season. Joining Sascha Riether’s more permanent new contract last week, we have Derek Boateng who, after two years of trying to get him, signs on a free transfer after his release from Dnipro in January, and Fernando Amorebieta, who we’ve nicked from Athletic Bilbao on a bosman. In fact, Boateng apparently signed his deal two weeks ago according to his management agency and Amorebieta has been mooted in the media for the past month or so. A swift bit of business.
Getting in our players ASAP is, quite clearly, the most beneficial way to go about it. I suppose that there is a chance that if we act in haste we will miss out on a better deal that may arise later, but realistically Jol will have a list of targets which he will present to the board and any other business is just opportunity, rather than more careful consideration. Consider Boateng for example. After he was a standout performer in the Dnipro team we beat 3-2 on aggregate in 2011 Jol set out to get him, and while it may have taken four transfer windows, the single-mindedness of the Dutchman eventually meant he got his man. Let’s just hope the 20 months in between haven’t diminished Boateng’s quality, because he looked rather good. A souped up Etuhu the likes of which we have genuinely missed this season (until Enoh, perhaps) and even at 30 will have something to offer our squad. Signing these players so quickly means there is little time for opportunities to come in and snatch our deals as we’ve suffered too many times in the past, like Torosidis, the captain of Greece, who was all set to join us in January until Roma came and nabbed him from under our noses.
Amorebieta is especially interesting. A good defender, very talented and highly coveted, especially after his impressive form during Athletic Bilbao’s run to the Europa League final last year. He found himself out of favour from January onwards after refusing to sign a new contract which expires in less than six weeks. He has been linked to the big guns; teams like Zenit and Arsenal were reported to be interested in him. But, despite being offered a lower wage if certain media is to be believed, he has joined Fulham, and I am certain the swift actions taken to try and secure him were key to that. If we had waited any longer I imagine someone else would have one-upped us, and who knows how long this deal has been in place – Amorebieta has been available on a bosman for near five months now. As a centre half of considerable quality I cannot wait to see him alongside Hangeland next season. Aggressive but technically sound, he will shine in England and is a real coup that bodes well if this is a symbol of our pulling power and our ambition.
Riether we are all familiar with as the best kept secret in England. A transfer of between £1m and £2m is exceptional value for money, and with Sky Italia reporting Dutch goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenberg has been dropped entirely from the Roma squad ahead of an imminent €5m move to Fulham, we seem to be the early birds in this transfer window. It seems like this is how Jol prefers to do things (remember how early we signed Petric and Rodallega?) and even before then, Mark Schwarzer’s acquisition was announced five years ago yesterday. Maybe we have learnt lessons from the shambles of last summer, where all the relevant business happened after August the 28th, leaving no time to respond adequately. The club and manager deserve great credit for moving so quickly to secure their targets. Will this also calm the borderline frenzied concerns that we are poorly run with no intent to improve? One’d hope so.
Just a shame that a Summer with no football will be made even more boring if we haven’t got any transfers to look forward to since they were signed by the end of May!