Ibrahima Cisse has told the Belgian press that he is ‘disgusted’ by his lack of first team opportunities since his summer move to Fulham – and says he has received no explanation for his absence from head coach Slavisa Jokanovic.
In a strongly-worded interview with French language newspaper La Dernière Heure, the defensive midfielder expresses surprise at not featuring for Fulham’s first team since his three Cup appearances last year and claims that his team-mates are baffled by his continued exclusion. The holding midfielder hasn’t featured for the Fulham senior side since coming on as a late substitute in the 2-1 defeat at Villa Park in October – and his only competitive run out since then has been seventy minutes in the Checkatrade Trophy at Crawley a month later.
I had even been picked in three Cup games and then, suddenly, I disappeared from the selection. I am a professional, so if I had done something wrong, I would know but this is not the case. Even my teammates have trouble understanding my situation. I’m still disgusted not to play anymore.
The 23 year-old says Jokanovic has not been forthcoming with the reasons for his lack of game time and believes that he has acquitted himself well both in training and friendly matches that were arranged during the international break. Cisse feels that he has been in the best shape of his career since moving to England. A frustrated Cisse told the paper of his disappointment that Jokanovic has promoted some of the club’s academy graduates ahead of him:
The coach knows me well because he was already at the club when there were touches with Fulham last winter. But he has his three midfielders and he does not want to change it too much. In recent times, he has even put young people before me. In my last match, a friendly against Southampton held in November, I gave it my all and scored a goal. But that did not change my situation. At the beginning of the season, I was really in great shape, I had never reached such a level since the beginning of my career. Unfortunately, I lost this pace because of this lack of playing time.
Cisse says the only transfer that would interest him during the January window would be a loan move back to former club Mechelen, but Fulham and the player have rebuffed the only interest that has surfaced so far – which came from United Arab Emirates’ outfit Al-Jazira. The former Belgian youth international seemed to mock the possibility of joining a lower-league English side on loan this month:
I could very well stay because aside from my playing time, I love Fulham. I’m in no hurry and we’ll see if anything good comes to me. For the moment, I do not think about returning to the Belgian league. The only club that could convince me is perhaps Mechelen. But a loan in a club of the third division English does not excite me.