The transfer season provokes wild emotions in a fanbase, but even more so when a team has switched divisions. In the wake of promotion, Liam Ventom examines why Mitrovic and Targett would be a sensible double swoop to kick off the Whites’ transfer dealings this summer.
Saturday 26th May is a day that will go down in Fulham folklore. The Whites’ return to the Premier League was confirmed in spectacular fashion, as Tom Cairney’s 23rd-minute strike was enough to seal the victory in front of the the 38,000 strong white wall – which should really become the collective name for the fanbase as a whole.
With the result finally sinking in, it’s time that the club firmly turn their attention towards the impending season in the top flight. Survival next season is crucial if we are to witness the birth of a new and positive era in the club’s history – alike to our 13-year stay in the Premier League the last time we came up.
Already our social media feeds our being hijacked by transfer gossip and speculation and this is only likely to intensify as the season draws closer. With the chairman promising to back Slavisa in the window, the talk of new arrivals has begun; however, the first priority of the Fulham hierarchy, led by Tony Khan, should be to secure the permanent signings of our January loans. Both Mitro and Matty Targett have had a huge impact on the side and without such additions promotion would have been unachievable.
Mitrovic has been a revelation since his arrival on January deadline day. To come into a side having not played much football and score 12 goals is a truly astonishing feat, and one which should not be detracted from. His power, awareness and skill along with his remarkable ability to hold the ball up, even under immense pressure, have made him a firm favourite at the Cottage.
One of the most impressive things about him however is how he has managed to improve the players around him. His ability to hold up play and suck in defenders has afforded our wingers more room on the touchlines as well as allowing the midfielders to attack the space in behind the forward — with Stefan Johansen’s form in particular benefitting from this.
Off the field he has had a hand in improving both Fonte and Kamara, with both speaking openly about learning from the Serb in training. Aside from this, however, there is the simple matter of goals. Crucial to Premier League survival is the concept of getting the ball in the back of the net, and with Mitrovic’s ability to perform at this level he has more than enough about him to score the goals to keep us up.
The transfer of Mitrovic will be difficult due to the obvious financial implications. His price will have increased as a result of his Championship exploits and has the potential to grow further should he have a good World Cup. A key point to note here is that Newcastle are likely to hold out to see how he performs in Russia, not only affecting his price but also the number of clubs looking to secure his signature.
Therefore efficiency and a significant level of funding are key to this deal. From a personal perspective it makes sense for Mitrovic to stay on at Fulham, playing a style a play that clearly suits him whilst playing under a manager whom he gets on well with and who he even described as his hero. After the final Mitro said ‘this [had] been the best 3-4 months of [his] life’. Make it happen, TK!
Matt’s recent performances have done nothing to quell my love for the man. Ever since his arrival myself and the rest of the white wall (it’s going to catch on) have been impressed by his footballing maturity, poise, composure and crossing ability.
In particular his performance in an attacking sense against Derby at the Cottage was outstanding, constantly peppering the box with perfectly weighted balls. One of my favourite moments of the final was when he nonchalantly rolled the ball onto his weaker right foot to deliver an absolute peach only for Mitro to fire the header just wide.
This transfer is not so financially straining, you would imagine, unless of course Southampton value him at a ridiculous level and price us out of a deal. One stumbling block is that he remains a fan favourite at St Mary’s, and unlike Mitro had not fallen out of favour with his parent club. So, with it looking more and more likely that Bertrand will move away in the summer, Targett would be a lot higher up the pecking order – making him a more valuable asset and again increasing the complications of any potential transfer.
Despite these permutations I believe Fulham should go all out to get their man. We saw this season the difference Targett made to the side, as having a left back who fits well into our style is crucial to the team’s performance. Targett also has Premier league experience, which in our squad in particular is worryingly scarce. From a financial position it would be a shrewd investment as he is a young English talent only likely to improve under Jokanovic and, let us not forget the defensive guru Stuart Gray.
He has come out on social media to declare his love for the club and teased the fans by saying he’ll ‘see [us] one way or another next season’, so if the deal were right he shouldn’t need to much convincing to rejoin the Fulham revolution. I would personally be happy to by Tony Kahn a considerable number of pints if he makes this happen. As I said earlier, I love Targett and in the words of Andy Warhol, “I wonder if it’s possible to have a love affair that lasts forever.”
To summarise, the club must do all it can to secure these two signatures, and not risk the team’s momentum by looking elsewhere for alternatives when the two are more than capable. With both deals far from straightforward it will be interesting how they unfold over the summer.
Finishing on a personal note, I would just like to say thank you to every Fulham fan at Wembley, and to those watching around the world, walking out to be greeted the white wall is a sight I’ll never forget! Hoping everyone has great summers and is ready to go next season in the Premier League! You Whites!