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Fulham eye Smalling return

Fulham are interested in bringing Chris Smalling back to Craven Cottage after his proposed permanent move to AS Roma seems to have fallen through.

The England centre back spent last term on loan with the Italian giants but has returned to Manchester United after Roma failed to meet his parent club’s £20m asking price. The 30 year-old, who made 30 appearances for the Giallorossi and found the net three times, had been eager to move to Italy after slipping down the pecking order at Old Trafford but Roma’s reluctance to match either United’s valuation or to be able to pay his wages for another loan leaves Smalling in limbo.

Reports yesterday suggested that several Premier League clubs had been alerted to Smalling’s availability following the collapse of his proposed switch to Roma. Newcastle have long been admirers of the 6’4” centre half but, the collapse of a recent takeover bid leaves the Magpies unable to fund significant transfers without the approval of Mike Ashley. Smalling’s rumoured £130,000-a-week wages would be a stumbing block for any suitors, although he was believed to be willing to take a hefty cut in salary to secure a move to Roma had it materialised.

Fulham’s interest in their former player is considered legitimate, although it remains to be seen whether they would look to take him on loan initially or table a bid to bring Smalling back outright. The defender’s professional career began at Craven Cottage after Roy Hodgson signed him from Maidstone United in 2008. The ball-playing centre half flourished under Hodgson’s influence at Craven Cottage, breaking into the first team as a teenager and not looking out of place when he stepped into alongside either Brede Hangeland or Aaron Hughes at the back. He made nineteen appearances in total, helping the Whites reach the Europa League final, before joining Manchester United for £11.5m in July 2010.

Smalling, who has made more than 300 appearances for United, would represent the sort of experienced Premier League defender that Scott Parker wants to build his defence around as Fulham attempt to avoid the mistakes that plagued their last season in the top flight. Whether the defender would consider rejoining the club that gave him his first shot in senior football is still an unknown, although Smalling is eager for regular first-team football having been dropped by England boss Gareth Southgate in November 2017.

Fulham wrap up Stekelenburg signing

Fulham today have announced the signing of Dutch international Maarten Stekelenburg from AS Roma for an undisclosed fee, rumoured to be under €5m, on a contract that lasts until 2017. The 30 year old, who has been capped 54 times for his country, was close to joining on January transfer deadline day after the clubs and player had agreed a move, before Roma pulled out of the deal in the last minute, declaring they hadn’t been left time enough to find a suitable replacement, but Fulham remained interested and the transfer has been completed over four months on.

Stekelenburg, who reunites with Martin Jol under whom he played for Ajax, said:

I am very happy to be joining Fulham, and to have everything sorted out so early in the summer, so I can really focus on preparations for playing in the Barclays Premier League next season.

It’s good that I’ll be joining Martin again, he knows my capabilities very well, so I am just looking forward to joining up with the team in pre-season and enjoying some time with them prior to the new season starting.

Fulham manager Jol was naturally delighted to finally capture his target:

Maarten Stekelenburg is a fine quality goalkeeper who I know well from my time working with him at Ajax and of course as the Dutch international goalkeeper I have always had an additional interest in his career. I am sure that he will do well here at Fulham in the Barclays Premier League.

He is a player of great quality and technical ability whose distribution and ability to react quickly and read the game is exceptional; he will be a fantastic addition to the talented team of ‘keepers that we already have.  I am delighted that he was so keen to come to join us and am very happy with the way that the summer is shaping up in terms of our signings, so on the whole I’m ever so pleased.

The completion of this transfer is expected to hasten the exits of first-choice keeper Mark Schwarzer and his understudy David Stockdale, who are looking for guaranteed first team football.


Roma confirm Stekelenburg sale

AS Roma’s sporting director Franco Baldini has confirmed that the Italian club have agreed a deal with Fulham for goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg.

With Mark Schwarzer’s contract at Craven Cottage coming to an end, Fulham manager Martin Jol has moved quickly to seal a deal for the 30-year-old shot-stopper, who has grown unsettled at the Stadio Olimpico in recent months.

Baldini revealed the successful negotiations after being quizzed about reports he is set to take over as director of football at Tottenham, after he flew to London on business last week.

“I went to London for the sale of Stekelenburg at Fulham,” Baldini told Corriere dello Sport. “There were questions to be answered, but I closed a deal subject to the usual conditions.”

Fulham are believed to be paying in the region of £4m for Stekelenburg. They have already agreed deals for defender Fernando Amorebieta and midfielder Derek Boateng as they look to rebuild ahead of the new campaign.

Fulham closing in on Stekelenburg

Roma general manager Franco Baldini has confirmed that the Italian club have agreed a deal in principle with Fulham for the transfer of goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg.

Fulham have moved quickly in the close season to reunite the Dutch international goalkeeper with Martin Jol, who coached Stekelenburg at Ajax, having missed out on the deal during the final hours of the January transfer window. Baldini travelled to London to finalise negotiations with Fulham, as he confirmed to Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport:

I went to London to sell Stekelenburg to Fulham. There were many issues to be resolved. I reached an agreement subject to a number of conditions, like the player’s personal demands and the medical.

The transfer fee is believed to be around €3m – and the deal is expected to be announced later this week.

Stekelenburg set to finalise Fulham move next week

Fulham are close to completing the signing of Roma goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg with the Dutch international due in London next week to have a medical and finalise the details of his protracted transfer.

Martin Jol was keen to capture the former Ajax custodian in January and came close to sealing the deal on transfer deadline day – with the move called off after Roma failed to land a satisfactory replacement. Fulham have maintained their interest in the 30 year-old, who is not guaranteed either European or first-team football with his current employers, and their persistence seems to have paid off. Stekelenburg, who made just 19 appearances in Serie A last season, is expected to cost Fulham around €3m and it remains to be seen whether his arrival could spell the end of Mark Schwarzer’s five year spell at Craven Cottage.