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Mitroglou loaned out

Fulham’s record signing Kostas Mitroglou has left the club on loan for a second time after agreeing a move to Benfica until June 2016.

Mitroglou joined Fulham from Olympiakos for £11m in January 2014, but has made just one start and two substitute appearances without scoring a goal.

The 27-year-old rejoined Olympiakos on loan last season, scoring 19 goals in 32 appearances.

“I didn’t think twice when the opportunity arose,” said Mitroglou.

The Greece international added: “I knew immediately that was where I wanted to go,

“I will try to score many goals for the team but the most important is to win the games. Of course, the goals are important for a striker and I am happy to play here.”

Mitroglou won the Greek title and Greek Cup with Olympiakos last season, the 10th and 11th major trophies of his career.

A Glimpse of Mitroglou

mitroglou training

If you have looked closely at the various photo albums that Fulham have put on the official website throughout the pre-season tour of Austria you will have perhaps spotted Kostas Mitroglou in the ranks. Having seemingly been close to transfers to a number of different clubs, including Sporting Lisbon and Olympiacos, already this summer it seems surprising that the club have flown him out to Austria with the rest of the squad for a tough week of fitness and matches! Perhaps it is just a way of keeping him fit and ready for a transfer if someone comes looking but I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up staying at Fulham until at least January.

Signed for a whooping £12million in January of 2014, Mitroglou was supposed to be the man who scored the goals that kept Fulham in the Premier League. Instead he ended up being injured for pretty much the whole time and caused a wages headache for Fulham when we dropped down to the Championship. He has been branded a flop by many and was just another reason for football fans around the country to keep chuckling at Fulham.  Shipped out back to Olympiacos last season, most Fulham fans doubted that the Greek would ever make it back to the banks of the Thames.

Yet here we are, summer 2015 and just 2 weeks to go before the start of the campaign and all loan deals or transfers are seemingly off the table. Why do I think he might end up staying for the first half of the season at least? Here are just two reasons:

  1. One reason Mitroglou was sent out on loan last season was because he was likely to be on hefty wages that Fulham would have been reluctant to maintain. And after paying a huge transfer fee that we would have struggled to get back, going out on loan was the best option financially. It meant that he would get game time and the club wouldn’t have had to worry about wages. However, this season Fulham have released the likes of Hugo Rodallega and Bryan Ruiz who also would have been on high wages. This, plus the fact that the players that we have brought in aren’t likely to have broken the bank, perhaps the club are more able to fund his wages if the coaching staff think he might play a part.

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  1. We have let strikers go but haven’t yet brought anyone in. We aren’t exactly lacking in this area with Ross McCormack, Moussa Dembele, Cauley Woodrow, Matt Smith and Adam Taggart but having the Greek international striker also in the ranks can’t be a bad thing. Taggart didn’t feature at all last season due to injury so we really don’t know what he will bring to the squad. Also, Woodrow certainly has his critics because of his current habit of missing too many chances (although I do believe he will come good once his confidence is back). Dembele has been off scoring plenty for France U19s but he is another player who we don’t quite know for certain if he will be up to leading the attack alongside McCormack this season. I personally like Matt Smith but I feel he is more likely to be deployed as a substitute towards the end of games when we need a change of style. If the coaching staff decide to add Mitroglou into the mix then they are adding a player who scored 19 goals last season for Olympiacos, the same number as Ross McCormack! He could prove to be an important source of goals this season.

Obviously the club still might end up sending Mitroglou somewhere on loan and this whole article will be made pointless, but on the basis that he may stay I hope you don’t think that it is such a bad thing. We will know more come the start of the season in just over 2 weeks’ time.

#COYW

Follow me- @Lyds_campbell

 

Grexit Stage Fulham: How Eurozone Economics are Impacting The Whites this Summer

“Grexit” is the portmanteau coined in recent times to succinctly describe the potential exit of Greece from the Eurozone. The scenario has come to a head in recent weeks with Greek President Alexis Tsipras leading both his Government and Country to the brink and back several times.

The macroeconomic uncertainty of Greece’s fate has played havoc with the European financial markets and in an ironic twist of fate is now potentially hampering Fulham’s very own Grexit, as Kostas Mitroglou is attempted to be sold.

Kostas-Mitroglou

alexis tsipras red

Indeed, wider economic and financial issues are playing an important role in Fulham’s offseason. Aside from player movement, there was the announcement earlier this week that the delay to our big home kit unveiling is down to the lack of a confirmed sponsorship agreement to go on the front. Attracting a marquee sponsor will have been one of the toughest financial challenges facing Fulham’s senior leadership structure this off-season.

With Marathonbet presumably exercising their right to vacate the front of Fulham’s shirts at the earliest contractual opportunity following relegation, Fulham will have been left with something of a gaping hole in the profit and loss account. Marathonbet’s deal was the largest in the club’s history.  Replacing that deal to any decent level will have proven extremely difficult given the reduced exposure the Championship gives you, especially given our largely dire performances last season hardly mean Sky are in a rush to schedule us at primetime.

Hull City’s recent announcement that they were losing global sports betting brand 12Bet as their lead sponsor and replacing them with local tourist attraction Flamingoland is perhaps the starkest recent example of the drop off in the calibre of sponsor once a team drops out of the Premier League.

In financial terms, it is estimated that a mid-table Premier League club can earn shirt sponsorship well into seven figures per season. Fulham’s deal with Marathonbet was reportedly said to be worth between £2m – £3m per season. The average Championship sponsorship package is believed to be mid six figures. The drop off is significant.

My fellow Fulham Supporters Trust director Mike Gregg has previously done an in-depth look at Fulham’s finances over on a rival website, which is well worth finding if you wish to look at the numbers in greater detail.

Going back to title of this article, the Grexit; what the wider macroeconomic situation in Europe has meant for Fulham this summer is broadly that we have been sellers in a market with very few buyers.

At close of business on today (15th July), the Euro was trading at near its 52 week high against the Pound at €1.42 per £1.  For European clubs, this translates into very expensive prices when buying players from outside of the single currency Eurozone.

In comparison, this time last summer the Euro was worth €1.25 v GBP. This rise of 17 cents in a 12 month period represents a nearly 14% jump in import/export costs for businesses, or in this case football clubs.  This means that those clubs whose daily trade is in Euros are now significantly weaker when they deal with clubs trading in Pound Stirling.  Buying a player in Pounds has never been more expensive.

This brings us back to Kostas Mitroglou, whose cumbersome transfer is now beginning to look like well thought out retribution for the Elgin Marbles. Fulham are reportedly hawking the striker around Europe with demands of a £1m loan fee and a £7.5m buyout clause. Compared to one year ago, £1m is now €170,000 more expensive, with £7.5m now €1,275,000 more expensive.

As a result, there are two potential outcomes, either European clubs will have to pay the increased prices, or Fulham will have to lower their price demands. Neither scenario is ideal and perhaps explains why Fulham’s own Grexit is becoming as protracted as its ideological big brother’s.

With several of Fulham’s international playing staff in the queue for an exit of their own, the enduring financial turmoil in Europe, and resulting impact on currency rates, is likely to be a significant hindrance to the club securing them transfers out of England.  Bryan Ruiz’s departure from south west London is a prime example.  A year overdue, Sporting Lisbon’s eventual acceptance to go against the prevailing economic outlook and pay any sort of transfer fee for the Costa Rican is a result Fulham’s management should be applauded for securing. Should Alastair Mackintosh and co secure a similar deal for Kostas Mitroglou and Fernando Amorebieta’s exits, their achievement should not be without appreciation.

Unfortunately for Fulham, the movement in European currencies has also come at the wrong time for incoming transfers. This summer has seen a shift in the transfer paradigm at Fulham. For the first transfer window in recent memory, we are concentrating our recruitment on transfers from within England. So far, not a single arrival has come from Europe, so we are yet to take advantage of the favourable exchange rate movement that, conversely to the scenario above, makes players cheaper to buy from Europe than they have been before.

This summer is providing a series of financial challenges to Fulham off the field.  As I’ve shown above, many of these are well out of the club’s control. With the kit unveiling and the conclusion of the transfer window, the next month and a half will be a fascinating time, and for now it’s worth reading the business pages as well as the sport.

 

COYW

Mitroglou poised to sign for Sporting Lisbon

Kostas-Mitroglou

Reports from Portugal suggest that Sporting Lisbon are very confident of completing a loan move for Fulham striker Kostas Mitroglou today.

The Greek international has been linked with potential permanent transfers to Greek sides Besiktas and Fenerbahce for most of the summer but those moves have stalled due to disagreements about matching Fulham’s valuation of a player they paid £12m for last January. Sporting, who recently signed Mitroglou’s former Fulham team-mate Bryan Ruiz on a permanent basis, have reportedly completed negotiations with Fulham over a loan, which will cost them around €1 million and offer an option to sign the striker should the move prove successful.

The Lions decided to focus their attention on Mitroglou after failing in their attempt to tempt Norwich City striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel back to the Estadio Jose Alvalade as they couldn’t match his current wages. Mitroglou, who has made only three appearances for Fulham since that big money move from Olympiakos, spent last season on loan at his former club, scoring sixteen goals in 24 league appearances, as the Greek giants won the domestic double. The 27 year-old has won forty caps for his country and scored eight goals at international level.

Sassuolo eyeing move for Mitroglou

Sassuolo are about to enter the race to sign Fulham striker Kostas Mitroglou, according to reports in the Italian press.

The Serie A are in the market for a new striker after Simone Zaza returned to Juventus following his loan spell and have identified the Greek international as a possible replacement. Mitroglou is keen to leave England permanently after making just three appearances since joining Fulham in a £12m deal last January.

The 27 year-old has long been linked with a move to Besiktas having spent last season on loan at Olympiakos, where he scored sixteen goals in 24 league appearances, as the Greek giants won the domestic double, but a boardroom dispute at the Turkish club over whether to match Fulham’s valuation could scupper that transfer. Italian newspaper Gazetta dello Sport claims that Mitroglou would rather move to Italy or Spain and several Serie A clubs have already been linked with his signature.

Sassuolo, who comfortably starved off relegation from the top flight last season, could join Napoli and Udinese in the face to conclude a permanent deal for Fulham’s wantaway forward.