I didn’t bother with a Five Thoughts following Fulham’s dejecting 4-0 defeat against Newcastle United on the last day of the torrid 2018-19 campaign, but now we’re over our plight and brimming with hope, vigour and optimism for the Championship schedule ahead, I’m back. Penning articles is what I love to do most, but tenuous transfer pieces have a differing charm, an appeal that makes you cringe and ponder all at once.
The summer transfer window is a period that I relish. Trawling through independent news outlets for the most reliable and abstract links and rumours makes my heart smile, but as most of the leads are crammed with falsified nonsense most of the time, it also makes my brain drop to its knees in a torrent of scornful curse words, like ‘bullshit’ and ‘bollocks’. Nevertheless, it’s all food for thought, something to get our teeth into in the empty weeks ahead, and for that, I’m forever grateful for the mainstream media’s dedication to fatten us up.
I’ve compiled a selection of players that could be destined for Craven Cottage. Some of which are very familiar, some of which are virtually sim players on Football Manager, but they’re all cited in reason. It’s that time of year where I and the Fulhamish core pump your timeline with digestible, exemplary supplements and this is just the beginning. Scott Parker’s camp requires fresh faces – could any of these so-called candidates be next in line for customary welcome mugshot? Let us proceed.
Chema Rodriguez – Levante UD
Fulham’s defence was amongst the worst in world football last season and it’s clear that reinforcements are very much needed. In reality, the Whites shipped 81 Premier League goals during their disastrous relegation debacle, and as those that inhabited a central position were frail and feeble, Levante UD’s Chema Rodriguez – according to Spanish outlet El Desmarque – has allegedly been identified as a prime transfer target in the summer transfer window.
Physically imposing, old school, Chema featured 21 times for Granotas last season as they survived the drop by the skin of their teeth, and the prospect of a switch to SW6 is said to intrigue the 27-year-old greatly. Fulham won’t be the only tailing suitors, however, as it’s believed that Cardiff City could also revive their pursuit of the centre-half, who apparently turned the Bluebirds down in the January transfer window.
Dwight Gayle – Newcastle United
Here we go again. The perennial speculation merry-go-round focusing on a potential swoop for Newcastle United’s Dwight Gayle has arrived to terrorise once more. Elaborating on previous articles from yesteryear, Evening Standard disclosed that the Magpies have supposedly slapped a £20m price tag on the 27-year-old’s head. If Aleksandar Mitrovic is to depart Craven Cottage in the coming weeks, it’s thought that Fulham could initiate negotiations for the proven Championship hitman’s signature.
Spending the duration of the 2018-19 season at West Bromwich Albion on loan, Gayle netted 24 goals for the Baggies, firing them towards a Play-Off spot. Despite his potent prowess, though, James Shan’s inherited squad fell short of the mark in the semi-finals, having succumbed to defeat at the hands of Aston Villa. The former Crystal Palace striker has been teetering on the brink of an exit from St. James’ Park for a number of years, and if the price is right, thw Whites could land a very prolific striker indeed.
Britt Assombalonga – Middlesbrough
Another exalted Championship marksman is Middlesbrough’s Britt Assombalonga has also been touted for an exit, despite Tony Pulis’ dismissal from the Riverside’s dugout. It’s said the 26-year-old and his former manager had a fractious relationship and Fulham, who could be on the lookout for a deadly attacker, may well offer the Congolese international a clean slate and a fresh start, according to a report published by Northern Echo.
Boro’s club-record signing, Assombalonga has registered 28 goals in two season for his current employers, and if vying parties are to prise his services away from the North East, it’s thought that Middlesbrough could demand £15m. Acquiring the correct personnel will be imperative to the Whites’ anticipated promotion push next term and Assombalonga, a lethal weapon in the second-tier, would be a very intelligent purchase if Mitro’ bids farewell.
Harry Arter – AFC Bournemouth
It’s a family affair. Harry Arter is, of course, Scotty P’s brother-in-law and an article released by the Irish Independent suggests that the AFC Bournemouth midfielder is keen on linking up with the ex-England stalwart at the Cottage. Arter represented Cardiff on a temporary basis last season, although the Republic of Ireland international is expected to leave the Vitality Stadium once more before the start of the 2019-20
The 29-year-old has two years left on his standing Cherries deal but his outings for Eddie Howe’s set-up in recent seasons have been desperately scarce. Arter is said to be earning £40k-a-week on the South Coast and with a proposed exit looming, a club closer to home is believed to be desired. It’s not yet known whether Arter will complete a permanent departure this summer, but long-term or not, Fulham’s midfield ranks could benefit from his rich experience and dynamism.
James Justin – Luton Town
A trusted protagonist at Luton Town at the impressionable age of 21, James Justin is said to be on a vast number of radars – as per a report published by Football Insider – with Southampton, Aston Villa, Leicester City and Crystal Palace credited amongst the chasing pack. Versatile and efficient, the fledgling left-back is also capable of manning the right side of the Hatters’ back four, an adaptable quality that’s a bold plus in the modern game.
Luton were promoted to the Championship as League 1 champions and Justin, an undoubted mainstay in Graeme Jones’ matchday fold, made 43 appearances in the third-tier of English football. Complimenting his inclusion, the industrious fullback also bagged 3 goals alongside 8 assists, a record that summarises his underlying potential. Subject to the report, Villa have supposedly lodged a £7.5m offer to lure the youngster away from Kenilworth Road.
Dario Zuparic – HNK Rijeka
Newly promoted Sheffield United and recently relegated Fulham are both rumoured to be drawn towards HNK Rijeka centre-half Dario Zuparic, a Croatian national that will allegedly be available for just £1.5m. Now, that’s not a figure that equates to ‘starting quality’, but as the 27-year-old’s well versed in his defensive duties, he could prove to be a worthy squad filler if the Whites opt to make their proposed interest known.
Zuparic has one year left on his current contract at the HNK Rijeka Stadium Rujevica, so Riječki bijeli could be forced to cash in on the tried and tested defender, or risk losing him for free next summer. Joining Rijeka from Serie B outfit Delfino Pescara 1936 two-and-a-half years ago, Zupric, who has also buttressed the midfield in a holding role, has played 94 times for the Croatian club and is incidentally held in a relatively high regard as a result.