Fulham are returning to the Premier League with some swagger after a superb season that has seen them storm to the top of the Championship. I would like to extend my congratulations to Marco Silva, his backroom team and the squad for one of the best campaigns since the Slavisa Jokanovic era. I am looking Fulham to seeing Fulham hold their own in the top flight with Silva, who is clearly a top manager with a point to prove in the Premier League.
Everyone has started speculating about the season to come. The new Riverside Stand is almost built and will welcome supporters for the first time next season. It shows the ambition of chairman Shahid Khan to take the club into an exciting new era and is obviously pivotal to the development of alternative revenue streams. My mind does wander to thinking about how the rest of the stands might match the Riverside project in time and what a truly modern Craven Cottage might look like. The current version marries the unique throwback qualities of the Cottage, an undoubted piece of British footballing heritage, with the glamour of Wembley and an American feel courtesy of our custodians. You just can’t hate it.
I am not as sold on the kits the side currently play in. I didn’t like this season’s home strip but the biggest problem is Adidas and I’d advocate a move away from them. I know a few fans have documented their disappointment with the current kit supplier and I feel that their lack of ambition and change makes the current relationship deeply disappointing. The goalkeeper kits are the most obvious because you see the very same design and colours worn by other clubs. I would personally like to move to Puma or Nike, who can actually manufacture excellent kits.
Over the years we have had some outrageous colours for kits – from the famous Harrods green and gold, to the navy blue for the Europa League final and the luminous yellow numbers. I would love a reprise of the classic red and black away kit from Great Escape season. The classic yellow goalkeeper jersey from 2001/02 could make a welcome return, whilst I would like to add the Craven Cottage logo on the back, which was a nice touch in 2020/21.
I might well be the only fan who feels we need to update the badge, which has been around since 2001, when it was foisted on the fanbase following our promotion from Division One. It is long past time for a refresh – and an upgraded version would suit a modern, upwardly ambitious side, with hints of the old crest from 1947.
The most serious business this summer will be preparing a squad fit for the top tier of English football. Fulham’s recruitment team do at least have more time to prepare than our previous promotions: the last window for acquisitions after the Covid-delayed play-off final triumph over Brentford was ridiculously short. Manor Solomon seems set to sign from Shakhtar Donestsk and there is no doubt that the Israeli international is an exciting arrival. But it is clear that we need much more. Fulham are desperate for defensive reinforcement as well as needing legs in midfield and arguably another wide player. Fulham have already been written off as certainties for relegation, but shrewd signings can make Silva’s tough task of keeping the Whites above water a little easier.
The easiest decision to make early in the pre-season preparations will be retaining Neco Williams for another year. Whether it will have be another loan or the Whites can land the Welsh full back on a permanent basis for an acceptable fee, remains to be scene. His understanding with Harry Wilson along the right flank makes it a no-brainer, even if there are concerns about his defensive vulnerability in the Premier League. Any problems in the defensive third are offset by his sense of adventure and crossing ability, which could be crucial to supplying service for Aleksandar Mitrovic.
I’ve taken the liberty of shortlisting a list of potential targets for Fulham.
There will be debate about if we need a new keeper? Or if Marek Rodak deserves a chance in the top tier of English football? I’m not convinced that the Slovakian is Premier League quality – and I can see why the Fulham hierarchy are looking elsewhere.
Bernd Leno an experienced Premier League keeper who has spent a number of years at Arsenal but as of late haven’t featured as much for them. The 30 year old will bring soildarity for Fulham, he is a very commanding keeper which is needed for the defensive part of Fulham. Transfermarkt value ~ £9million.
The next is fan favourite Alphonse Areola – they say you shouldn’t fall in love with a loan player and I for sure “didn’t”. He can do a job for Fulham. I don’t need to talk about this man when everyone knows what he is like and how good he was for Fulham. He kept 10 clean sheets in all competition for Fulham during his loan spell at the club. Transfermarkt value ~ £8.1million.
The next keeper I would look at is Nick Pope, the 30 year old English national is a top keeper and a move back to London would be tempting. He is an establish keeper in the premier league. The shot-stopper would be a upgrade and commander. A potential captain for Fulham and would put the defence in their place. Transfermarkt value ~ £13.5million.
My last keeper that I would look to take is Mark Flekken having played nearly every game for SC Freiberg is averaging goals conceded at under 1 per game. The dutch national currently has 11 clean sheets with 29 goals conceded at 31 games in all competition. The Dutch national has helped his club SC Freiberg reach the DFB Pokal Final. Strengths – Long passing, saving long shots, shot stopped, close range. Weaknesses – crosses. Transfermarkt value ~ £4.5million.
My first pick is Jonathan Tah, we have been linked with the 26 year old previously and a revisit should be on the list after performances but a injury prone player might put alt on our pursuit. Transfermarkt value ~ £22.5million.
My next pick is Jeremiah St. Juste, a Dutch national and a speedster. Both of these options would be an upgrade on our captain America, Tim Ream, who has served us so selflessly but risks being caught out again at the highest level. Transfermarkt value ~ £14.4million.
I have chosen Jeffrey Gouweleeuw purely for squad depth, although it would be entertaining to hear Gentleman Jim having a go at pronouncing his name. Gouweleeuw is another cultured Dutch defender, who can fill in with variety should an injury occur. Transfermarkt value ~ £4.05million.
The former Manchester City man Jason Denayer is now plying his trade for Lyon in France. He’s a quality player and might be tempted by another crack at the Premier League. Transfermarkt value ~ £15.3million.
Joe Gomez has seen his first-team opportunities limited at Liverpool and might well be looking to move on to gain regular playing time ahead of the Qatar World Cup. The former Charlton academy graduate might fancy a return to London and, despite being a bit injury prone, he would be a strong signing. Transfermarkt value ~ £19.8million.
Marcos Senesi; 24 year old Argentine centre back, currently at Feyenoord. A nonsense centre back in the Joachim Andersen. His style of play consists of dribbling with the ball, tackling and committing the odd honourable foul. His strengths are passing the ball, ball interception. His weakness he lack concentration. Transfermarkt value ~ £10.8million.
Matt Targett is one of the two left backs I would take at Fulham. The former loanee would be first choice for this position as he still has a lot to give at the top level. Currently on loan at Newcastle after losing his position at Aston Villa to Luca Digne (a player Marco Silva brought to the premier league for Everton.) Transfermarkt value ~ £15.30million.
The second left back I would take is Northern Ireland international Jamal Lewis. Underrated and underused at Newcastle. Transfermarkt value ~ £9million.
Nicolas Dominguez, the 23 year old Bologna midfielder, would be an ideal signing in my opinion. He can hit a good early ball, has an excellent range of passing and a longer pass could benefit the likes of Wilson and Solomon who can get in behind the defence of the opposition. Strengths – through ball, concentration and getting in good blocks. Transfermarkt value ~ £11.7million.
Yangel Herrera, a coveted Manchester City youngster who has been loaned out regularly, is too good to be wasting his career with lower-ranked Spanish sides. Style of play consists of indirect set pieces threat, driblbing, playing short passes. Strengths – Defensive contribution, blocking the ball, concentration. Weakness – passing. Transfermarkt value ~ £16.2million.
Andre Gomes is a player Silva knows from his time at Goodison Park and if Everton were to go down, I think he would feature prominently on the Portuguese coach’s shortlist. Transfermarkt value ~ £18million.
Morgan Sanson, the French midfielder at Aston Villa, hasn’t been given much of a chance in the Premier League and we might be able to take advantage of any disillusionment. Transfermarkt value ~ £12.6million.
Bryan Heynen – the Belgian ball-player has a 86% passing completion rate since 2016. Heynen, a set-piece specialist, likes to play short passing and through balls. At 25, he has a decent amount of experience and would be an interesting acquisition. Transfermarkt value ~ £5.85million.
Seko Fofana – I’d love to acquire our former loanee for a second spell at Craven Cottage, even if it seems a bit far-fetched. The former Manchester City midfielder is enjoying an outstanding campaign at RC Lens, but the Whites would obviously face competition in the transfer market. Transfermarkt value ~ £18million.
Marc Roca, the Spaniard at Bayern Munich, would offer a combination of long balls, long-range shooting and shithousery. At 25, there would be the possibility of significant resale value should he play well at Craven Cottage. Transfermarkt value ~ £66.30million.
Corentin Tolisso, soon to be out of contract, would be a no-brainer but whether he would fancy a more to Fulham would be questionable. Transfermarkt value ~ £13.50million.
Justin Kluivert would be a wonderful signing for Fulham and the prospect of playing in the Premier League might make a move to London appealing. Transfermarkt value ~ £13.5million.
Ryan Sessegnon seems to be making a decent fist of impressing Antonio Conte at Tottenham, but I can’t help thinking it would be time to bring the boy home. Transfermarkt value ~ £13.5million.
Cody Gakpo, a young Dutchman with PSV, would be a real statement of intent. Transfermarkt value – £22.50million
Filip Kostic, the 29 year old Serbian mastermind, would be a brilliant foil for Aleksandar Mitrovic. He loves crossing the ball and can hit an accurate shot from distance. A real creator who can unlock defences and is excellent on set pieces. Transfermarkt value ~ £18million.
Tarik Tissoudali, a Moroccan left sided man, who like to play through balls and regularly dribbles past his man. Transfermarkt value ~ £6.75million.
Charles De Ketelaere – he has scored eighteen goals and added nine assists in 43 games for Club Brugge. That is an incredible strike rate for a 21 year-old. Transfermarkt value ~ £27million.
My top 8 signings:
8) De Ketelaere
The state of squad:
The squad is short on Premier League quality with plenty of deadwood on the fringes. There are a number of players out of contract in the summer – including Fabri, Hector, Mawson, Seri, Francois and Kebano – with Fabio Carvalho ready to graduate to our productive youth development partnership with Liverpool.
Here is my take on who to retain, release or replace:
Rodak ? Doesn’t deserve to be sold; definitely can be back up.
Gazzaniga ?perfect third choice
Fabri ?never got his chance but has reportedly been excellent with our young goalkeepers
Tosin ? Should be a starter, but badly needs a good partner for the Premier League
Mawson ? out of contract, injury prone and we can only thank him for his service. When not injured he has been great for us.
Hector ? never did anything wrong just never worked out with Silva solid player for the championship whoever signs him.
Kongolo ? refund?
Ream ? probably on his way out of the club I would personally like him to stay but we will probably have a new vision for the top flight.
Robinson & Bryan – I reckon one of these two will be sold if we pursue a new left back
Tete ? quality right back
Seri ? deserves another chance after his last stunt in the Premier League
Chalobah ? deserves to be in a team that needs someone like him. Just doesn’t fit Fulham.
Reed ? needs a goal some would say he is too good. Quality Premier league player
Cairney ? on the edge for this player if not injured can be very good for us in the top flight.
Onomah ? loan move
Francois ? Looks like he could be on his way out, but will need a loan move if he is convinced to sign a new deal
Decordova-Reid ? good player to have on the bench
Carvalho ? set to leave to join Liverpool
Cavaleiro ? no comment
Kebano ? good player to come off the bench
Wilson ? Superb first season at the Cottage and we need to see whether he can do it in the top flight
Knockaert ? Just never worked
Mitrovic ? Has a point to prove in the Premier League – and has been on fire for Serbia
Muinz ? Train him up as Mitrovic’s understudy, although he will need more gametime
Players currently out on loan;
Anguissa ? Looks likely to sign permanently with Napoli and wasn’t interested in playing in the Championship
Christie ? Deserves the move to Swansea that appears to be on the horizon
Sessegnon ? loan move
Fossey ? Out of contract in the summer; could well sign for Bolton after his brilliant loan spell
Youth development and academy
Something clearly needs to change with the way we handle our brightest talents. We can’t keep losing our outstanding prospects – like Harvey Elliott and Fabio Carvalho – to Liverpool or other suitors. The signs are more promising with Jay Stansfield recently signing a new deal, but it is vital to keep youngsters of the calibre of Luke Harris and Ollie O’Neill. we can not keep losing our best youths for such little fees for example Harvey Elliot and Fabio Carvalho to Liverpool.
We have one of the best academy in the country producing some up and coming prospects such as Sonny Hilton, Ziyad Larkeche, Harris, Adrion Pajaziti, Stansfield, Kieron Bowie, Olly Sanderson and O’Neill all excelling in a superb PL2 campaign. Accelerating the pathway to the first team squad will be the best way to reduce the amount of money Shahid Khan has to invest in transfers. Pajaziti and Hilton might be on the fringes of the first team squad if they decide to stay this summer, whilst Larkeche has shown enough to earn a loan opportunity that should give him a taste of senior football.