Like London buses, you wait all Summer for a Fulham transfer, then two come at once. Frankie Taylor is here with the important information you need to know about our latest signing from Chelsea!
Name: Martell Taylor-Crossdale
Age: 19 (26/12/1999)
Height: 6ft 1 (185cm)
Strengths and weaknesses
A number nine blessed with pace to run in behind and a devilish ability to find the back of the net, Taylor-Crossdale can score with either foot. In addition to this, he has a surprisingly strong dribbling ability and fleet of foot, which could provide an intriguing option on the wings on occasion. Like Tammy Abraham at Chelsea before him, Taylor-Crossdale has shown himself to be a fox-in-the-box poacher but needs to develop his game with his back to goal.
Many of Martell’s goals are ‘tap-ins’, displaying a knack of not only positioning himself correctly inside the box but also the hunger to score ahead of opposition defenders. When Taylor-Crossdale does drop deep, he has on occasion shown the ability to pick out passes and through balls with precision and good weight. However, don’t expect ‘MTC’ to be a great creator of goals from the no.9 position immediately or frequently.
Whilst some strikers need multiple chances to score, more often than not, Taylor-Crossdale only needs one opportunity to put the ball in the net. Likely to start with the U23s this season, Taylor-Crossdale will benefit from deliveries out wide and through balls in behind and taking his U18 goal scoring to U23 level will hopefully lift Fulham into the promotion talk from PL2’s Division 2. Martell’s movement from both inside and outside of the box is effective and as already mentioned in this piece, MTC can be a demon inside of the box and a real nightmare for opposition defenders to pick up. He understands the nuances of space and shows a real ability to get in behind without being caught offside, doing so more effectively at U23 level is Taylor-Crossdale’s first priority.
Whilst MTC has good size, he is still built very lean and with some good coaching and time in the gym, he will hopefully be able to get stronger in both his upper and lower body and be able to hold off men as he transitions to older age groups.
Modern teams are often playing with one up top and whilst he could get by in a more traditional strike partnership, to succeed as a lone striker in the modern game you often need to be able to play with your back your goal, hold the ball and bring your teammates into play to elongate attacks. This does somewhat tie into hold up play, but when you watch Taylor-Crossdale play, you do see that slight frame and wonder how he will cope against men rather than boys. He’s still only 19 and has plenty of growth left in him to bulk out but his legs, in particular, are long and thin which bring questions about his stability when surrounded by central defenders that are much larger.
The best comparison may arguably be Jamie Vardy who on a slender frame has immense tenacity and strength whilst still maintaining the speed and movement that saw him burst onto the scene and win the title. Since the exit of Claudio Ranieri from Leicester, Vardy has expanded his game to become a more well rounded forward, especially as teams defended deeper against him and reduced the space in behind. It’d be wise to get MTC watching footage of Vardy to teach and open his eyes to some of those subtle changes and movements.
Where will he fit in at Fulham?
Martell Taylor-Crossdale will rightly spend the start of his career at Fulham with the U23s who have had a gap up top as Cameron Thompson’s injuries have seen him miss a lot of game time. Taylor-Crossdale struggled to seriously break into Chelsea’s U23 set up due to the sheer volume at the club and lost a bit of goalscoring momentum thanks to this (6 goals in 21 matches compared to 29 in 37 at U18 level). Whilst MTC has winners medals in two Youth Cups, two Academy titles and at the Toulon Tournament, a move to Fulham represents a change from being part of a deep, starring squad where he was team-mates to the likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi to being a starter for a much smaller and youthful side (Fulham typically keep their U23s to 20 and under, rarely utilising the 21-23 limit).
Taylor-Crossdale has the raw attributes to be a really good footballer but does need work and development time. A type of talent that saw him have a medical at Hoffenheim before Fulham swooped in to clinch a deal, MTC is one of Fulham’s biggest development signings for many years. Whilst the need to work and develop is there, Martell Taylor-Crossdale can absolutely be seen as a player that has a genuine pathway to the first team.
I hope this piece helped to explain the type of forward player we’re getting in Taylor-Crossdale on a free from Chelsea and could be the start of a recruitment drive for Fulham’s U23s with Ben Tricker of Watford currently with our U23s plus Vashon Neufville (a left-back released by West Ham this summer) and Tushaun Walters (currently of Greenwich Borough, formally of Chelsea – a winger who dominated the Isthmian League this past season) also with that age group.