According to reports from Argentina, Fulham have tabled an offer for Boca Juniors defensive mdifielder Wilmar Barrios that would meet the Colombian’s release clause.
Earlier this week, there were widespread reports that a proposed to Europe had been shelved until the new year. Several English clubs including Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Everton had been heavily linked with a move for the commanding 24 year-old midfielder, whose strong performances for Colombia during the World Cup had increased interest in his services. Barrios had reportedly agreed to remain with Boca until the end of their Copa Libertadores campaign but Fulham’s willingness to pay the £16m that would release the player from his current contract would signify a new development.
Reports in south American claim that Boca are attempting to negotiate a new contract with representatives of Barrios to prevent him moving, although the player himself has made it known he would be interested in a move to the Premier League. The same reports suggest that Fulham’s rumoured interest in the Manchester City youngster Oleksandar Zinchenko represents a back-up option if Barrios, a powerful deep-lying midfielder, decides to rebuff their overtures and remain with Boca.
Barrios, who spent three years with Colombian outfit Deportes Tolima helping them win the Colombian Cup in 2014, has made 46 appearances for Boca in two years in Argentina. He was a key part of the Boca side that won the Argentinian Premier Division in 2016/2017 and his composed midfield play has gradually gained more international recognition. He was part of the Colombian squad at the 2016 Olympics and has now won thirteen senior caps for his country, culminating in a series of excellent displays during the World Cup in Russia – where Colombia were eliminated by England in the second round after a penalty shoot-out.
Fulham’s interest in Barrios is another indication that they are pursuing high-level targets as part of their summer recruitment. The newly-promoted side already pulled off a real coup with the signing of Nice midfielder Jean-Michael Seri last week, although their move for Barrios is almost certain to spark concerted interest from across Europe. The Whites are short of options at the base of their midfield, with Scottish international Kevin McDonald – thought to be in talks over a new contract at Fulham – yet to feature during pre-season.
A consistent Premier League goalscorer is just like one of Willy Wonka’s golden tickets. There are only a few of them out there and you have to buy a lot of ordinary chocolate bars until you find one. Fulham are testament to that (see Steve Marlet, Collins John, Andy Johnson, David Elm etc).
As a club, we are hardly in possession of chocolate bars, let alone golden tickets. We only have three senior team strikers currently under contract, only one of whose obligations extends beyond the summer. With the January transfer window now firmly in our rear view mirror, it is time to look forward.
Here’s my guide to several names who could be playing alongside, or indeed replacing, our current crop of Johnson, Sa and Pogrebnyak up-front at the Cottage next season:
The one’s you’ve heard already
Lucas Barrios – Borussia Dortmund, Age: 27, Potential Cost: £7m
Paraguayan international Barrios came close to joining us from reigning German champions Dortmund in the January window just gone. How close he was to signing depends on whom you believe, but the prospect of Barrios was an exciting one nonetheless. Barrios has undoubted goalscoring ability as shown by his 16 league goals in Dortmund’s Bundesliga winning campaign last season. Likely to still be available come the summer with Robert Lewandowski the number one choice in a lone striker system and wunderkind Marco Reus joining from Gladbach for €17m in July.
Jordan Rhodes – Huddersfield, Age: 21, Potential Cost: £6m
One cap Scotland international Rhodes has been the out-and-out star of the Football League this season. His goal tally in all competitions stands at 29 in 28 games this term. At any level, this is highly impressive. The unexpected departure of former Fulham midfielder Lee Clark from the dugout at the Galpharm Stadium will do nothing to strengthen Rhodes’ loyalty at the League One club. Definitely available in the summer, the fee required may top the £6m I have estimated. but Rhodes’ decision to represent Scotland might just hurt his value.
Jordan Rhodes - best domestic target?
We should be so lucky
Luuk De Jong – FC Twente, Age: 21, Potential Cost £8-10m
The Dutch Eredivisie has been fertile hunting grounds for our scouting department in recent years with our top signings from both previous summers’ joining from Holland (Bryan Ruiz from Twente and Moussa Dembele from AZ Alkmaar). De Jong was the star man when Twente held us to a 1-1 draw at the Cottage earlier this season. A big man with an eye for goal (17 so far this season in the league), De Jong could be an ideal long term replacement for Bobby Zamora. With our Dutch management team there has got to be half a chance we will go back to Holland this summer and if we do there is no doubt De Jong will be on the shortlist.
Luuk De Jong has already scored at Craven Cottage
Kevin Gamerio – Paris St Germain, Age: 24, Potential Cost: £10m
France international Gamerio is unlikely to be available but with Qatari investors now controlling the circus that is Paris’ leading club who knows? Carlo Ancelotti and his sporting director, Leonardo, are likely to want to put their own stamp on proceedings during their first full summer window. With Jeremy Menez and Nene shining, Gamiero may become available as rumours persist about PSG’s desire to bring in world names such as Alexander Pato.
John Guidetti – Manchester City, Age: 20, Potential Cost: £8m
20 year old Guidetti is currently on loan at Feyenoord from Manchester City. Our chances of signing the fast goal poacher must be slim with rumours of bigger clubs than us trailing the Swedish international and Roberto Mancini himself talking up Guidetti’s chances of making the First Team at Eastlands. However, something won’t add up come season’s end; Guidetti will unlikely want another loan and City currently possess a plethora of attacking might.
Out of leftfield
Bas Dost – Heerenveen, Age: 22, Potential Cost: £6m
The current top scorer in the Eredivisie in Holland, with 19 league goals so far this season, Dost is a Holland Under 21 international with a tremendous eye for goal. Players coming to England from the Eredivisie are a bit hit and miss to say the least. For every Robin Van Persie and Ruud Van Nistelrooy, there is a Mateja Kezman or Afonso Alves, and Dost would likely be the cheapest of the top end prospects from Holland this year. Ola Toivonen of PSV and even the aging Mounir El Hamdaoui of Ajax are other possibilities.
Sascha Mölders – Augsburg, Age: 26, Potential Cost: £2-4m
Journeyman Mölders, spent the majority of his career up to now in the German second division, that was until newly promoted FC Augsburg gave him a shot in the Bundesliga. While he does not possess the goalscoring prowess of others on this list, Mölders has shone in an otherwise poor team who look like getting Das Boot from the top division this year. Other Bundesliga candidates: Eren Derdiyok and Stefan Kiessling from Leverkusen may prove too expensive while Patrick Helmes would be an excellent addition who will likely be available from Felix Magath’s revolving transfer door at Wolfsburg.
Molders - A cheaper continental option?
Closer to home
Steven Fletcher – Wolverhampton Wanderers, Age: 24, Potential Cost: £5m
If Wolves go down, we should get ourselves into the long queue of clubs who’ll be knocking on the Molineaux boardroom door with cheques for Fletcher. If Wolves don’t go down, Fletcher’s goals will be a large reason why. The Scotland international has scored 20 goals in 49 appearances for a dour Wolves side that struggled to provide service to their beleaguered strikerforce under Mick McCarthy. McCarthy’s now gone, and with any luck, Fletcher will too, come the summer.
Marcello Trotta – Fulham Development Squad, Age: 19
Young Italian Marcello Trotta signed for the club in 2009 and has shone in the academy and reserves. Described as a “big and powerful striker with an eye for goal” by the club, Marcello recently made his first team debut in the away cup defeat at Everton. This followed a remarkable loan spell at League One Wycombe where he scored an astonishing 8 goals in 8 games. Perhaps, just maybe, our golden ticket has been here all along.
I’ve only listed a few names who have caught my attention this year through the following of various leagues across Europe thanks to the likes of ESPN. Indeed I would be fascinated to know who you’d like to see lining up front alongside Clint, Bryan and Moussa next season.
Lucas Barrios could be on his way to Fulham, according to a report in the German sports magazine Kicker.
The Paraguayan international is set to leave Borussia Dortmund after falling out with manager Jurgen Klopp but the Bundesliga club are reported to value the 27 year-old at £10m. Barrios, who has struggled for form and fitness with Dortmund this season, has been linked with a whole host of top European clubs, including Real Madrid, Arsenal and Liverpool. His rumoured £100,000-a-week wages are likely to be a problem in any negotiations.
Barrios, with his suitcase in tow, went on a final lap of honour after Dortmund’s 3-1 win over Hoffenheim on Saturday and was allowed to miss training yesterday. Bild claimed that he was already in England, finalising negotiations with his preferred club.