It’s been a huge day for Fulham in the transfer market, with Jean-Michael Seri and Maxime Le Marchand joining the Whites from OGC Nice. Our resident European footy man Ben Jarman has taken a look at the two signings.
Wow. Who could’ve seen that coming? Newly promoted Fulham snatching the signing of one of Europe’s most coveted midfielders from until the noses of the Premier League ‘big-boys’. But thanks to some Tony Khan magic and an enormous amount of ambition, the Whites have secured the signing of a bright star of European football. And let’s not forget his OGC Nice team-mate Maxime Le Marchand.
Jean-Michael Seri burst in to prominence two seasons ago, as his performances with a revitalised Nice side propelled them in to European competition for the first time in decades. Touted to join Barcelona just last summer, Nice’s change in stance at the eleventh hour meant that the midfield dynamo had to spend another 12 months with ‘Le Gym’. Nice are one of the oldest teams in France, and their astronomical rise from relegation-battlers to European challengers has been fuelled by the restructuring of their famous academy, but like FC Porto, the revitalisation of their scouting network. Both of Fulham’s new-boys have been picked up as part of the recruitment drive for young, talented players who Nice can make a substantial margin on. Le Marchand came from Le Harve in 2015, whilst Seri joined from Pacos De Ferreira in Portugal.
Both have been able to establish themselves quickly under both of the managers during their time at Nice. Le Marchand particularly impressed during the reign of Claude Puel and stood out as a centre-back for his defending ability, but also the development of his game as a ball player and, at times, a utility left-back. Seri, on the other hand, flourished under the expressive football of Lucien Favre as their swashbuckling midfield of Cyprien, Koziello and Seri provided a red-hot Mario Balotelli with 20+ goals in his debut season. It was here where Seri’s ability to play through the lines stood out, with his impressive vision and distribution cementing him as the top passer in Ligue 1 for the past two seasons. Perhaps more impressively, despite a poor season by his standards, Seri has once again topped the passing charts – no wonder why Uncle Tony’s eyes lit up!
Seri has always been noted for his passing ability, but it is one thing to note that he is always positive on the ball, and weighs in with his share of assists on a regular basis. When fit, Seri is almost untouchable on the ball, but seems to have had his issues over the past 18 months. In a world where technical ability is King, Seri has been compared to Xavi on several occasions, and the Spanish maestro has even praised him in interviews since being made aware of the comparison. Seri is a hugely talented individual, he will try and make things happen at everyone opportunity. His creativity has been unrivalled in Ligue 1 and without his positive impact in the second half of the season, Nice could have been in trouble. It is also worth noting, that like Stefan Johansen, Seri loves to carry to ball and should, in theory, serve as a good mettle to the creativity of Tom Cairney and the stability of Kevin McDonald. Worth noting that Seri’s dirty work is handled by his midfield partners, striking a particularly good partnership with fellow bright-spark Wylian Cyprien.
Le Marchand will go under the radar after the marquee signing of Seri, but the comparisons to Tim Ream may not be far off. Pacy, intelligent and good in the air, Le Marchand is coming off a season where nice struggled defensively and will be looking to redeem himself somewhat in his first season in England. He, like Seri, has struggled with injury and would perhaps make a better third choice centre-back than a starting centre-back, which may suggest that Fulham are looking to secure the services of another before the window shuts. We can expect Le Marchand to play an important, utility man style role across the year.
All in all, these two signings show tremendous ambition from Fulham as the plan to make the most of a first season back in the Premier League. What a start to the window it has been with two HUGE signings as we stride towards the first home match on August the 14th against Crystal Palace.