Being just a few weeks from the start of a new campaign, we are in what this website has historically called ‘the silly season’ of transfer rumours. Fulham are starting to be linked with a number of players as Marco Silva evaluates the squad he has inherited ahead of the Championship campaign, but two of the more creditable reports claim that the Whites are weighing up moves for the Swansea skipper Matt Grimes and Liverpool winger Harry Wilson.
Grimes seems certain to leave the Liberty Stadium at some point this summer as he has a year left on his current deal and Swansea are seeking to maximise what they can get for his services. The 25 year-old has plenty of Championship experience and has been a consistent performer in recent years. He might be the perfect replacement for Stefan Johansen, should the likeable Norwegian opt to turn last season’s loan at QPR into a permanent deal or head for pastures new. Grimes would clearly be a leader in the middle of the park – something we will miss in light of Kevin McDonald’s departure – and certainly knows how to pick a pass.
There are clear question marks over the Fulham futures of Andre Frank Zambo Anguissa and Jean Michael Seri. Even if the expensive duo were to stay and play a part in the Championship campaign, the Whites still might be short of alternatives in the engine room. Were they to leave, Grimes might well fit nicely alongside Harrison Reed in a deep lying midfield position – allowing skipper Tom Cairney to shine in the creative number ten role where he has previously excelled in the Championship. Cairney might have been used as a number eight alongside Reed at times by Scott Parker, but playing further forward allows Fulham to make the most of his undoubted technical ability and creativity, two things that were sorely lacking during the last two seasons.
Josh Onomah has shown glimpses of what he is capable of – there were definite flashes of quality during the tail-end of Fulham’s play-off run two years ago – but he has failed to convert that into a series of consistent performances. There is also a debate about where best to utilise the former Tottenham midfielder, who we didn’t see much of due to injuries and a lack of form last season. Tyrese Francois, a talented academy graduate, is deservedly on the fringes of the first team picture but Steve Wigley has already hinted that a loan away from Craven Cottage might be in the offing for the young Australian.
Harry Wilson appears to have admitted himself that he needs to make a permanent move away from Anfield for the good of his development. There are obvious issues to iron out ahead of a transfer – Liverpool’s £15m valuation may well prove a sticking point – but could the Welshman reignite his career at Fulham? Wilson has had several successful loan spells in the Championship and he possesses the precious ability to unlock defences as well as definite dead ball prowess. Nobody needs reminding that Wilson is also capable of spectacular long-range strikes.
The winger would arrive hungry and desperate to start every game to prove he can deliver on his undoubted potential. It would be unfair to pigeon hole him into one position as he can operate anywhere behind the striker – and that sort of versatility could come in handy during an arduous Championship campaign. He would provide competition for the likes of Cavaleiro and Knockaert – who I discussed yesterday – as well as Cairney (which might prove valuable as there must now be a question about how many games our talisman can manage), but arguably Wilson’s best position sees him cut in from the right to strike at goal with his left foot.
Recruitment will need to be spot on in the next few weeks, with both a lack of spending due to the coronavirus pandemic and Fulham’s own financial fair play position, influencing the market. Acquiring a couple of proven Championship talents would represent a solid start into giving Silva the resources he needs to be successful.