Rhys takes a look at Jean Michael Seri’s starring role in our early Championship charge.
While there was definite surprise when Marco Silva revealed that Jean Michael Seri would be staying at Fulham beyond the summer transfer window – it hasn’t taken the midfielder long to endear himself to fans for a second time at Craven Cottage.
The 30-year-old has been quiet off the pitch since his headline-making 2018 move to Fulham from Nice, but has since endured a turbulent career period with relegation being followed by loan spells in both Turkey and France.
Currently away on international duty with Patrice Beaumelle’s Ivory Coast, Seri will return to London this week knowing that he has a key role to play in a Fulham side that have gone from strength-to-strength.
Point to proveEmbed from Getty Images
Although Fulham fans only needed a few fixtures to be reminded of the quality Seri possesses, his links with a £35million move to Barcelona from Nice seem a lifetime ago.
After announcing his heartbreak over the collapsed move back in 2017, Seri finds himself in the English second tier with a entirely different point to prove.
Whether it was the initial plan or not, Seri is now playing a vital role for the overwhelming favourites for promotion – and has the advantage of playing alongside competent defenders as well as several dynamic forwards.
On the moveEmbed from Getty Images
It has been a little more than three years since Seri struck the Premier League Goal of the Month for August, a goal that would be his only strike of the season – and rather embarrassingly one of only four victories for the club before relegation was confirmed in early April.
The 2019/20 season would see Seri loaned to Galatasaray, where he would manage 37 appearances and taste Champions League football in playing the likes of PSG and Real Madrid.
Again leaving Fulham the following campaign, this time Seri went to Bordeaux, but he would only feature on 15 occasions in all competitions before returning to England to play under another new manager on the banks of the Thames.
Time to settleEmbed from Getty Images
Silva said back in August: “Since I arrived at the club I have spoken with him and I was clear with him.
“He had a very good pre-season and has really impressed me in all the games he has played so far. He is still working hard to keep his place in the starting 11 but I am really happy with him.
“In the next few games he will improve his physical condition, he needs to play 90 minutes regularly to become fitter. He wants to stay and hasn’t told me anything otherwise.”
Silva liningsEmbed from Getty Images
While Seri would no doubt have attracted interest from around Europe, the fact he will remain at Fulham until at least January has put him under an unusual pressure of having to keep his own stock high should he see his future away from the Cottage.
Across his four starts in the league this season, Seri has completed 91% of his 275 attempted passes, 231 of those being of short, sharp, shifting of possession type, that work so well in his holding midfield role.
Having earned his first Man of the Match award of the season in the 2-0 win over Hull at Craven Cottage, Seri has been a calming presence in what has been a manic, but enjoyable, start to the campaign.
Competition for placesEmbed from Getty Images
With body feints reminiscent of Danny Murphy and a confidence in midfield not often seen since the departure of Mousa Dembele, Seri has played at his own tempo in a league that is often unforgiving for the uninitiated.
“He is improving within the idea that I have for the team.” Silva said after the sweeping win over Huddersfield, but competition is now on the way with the return of Harrison Reed coinciding with Nathaniel Chalobah’s arrival.
I have little doubt over the fact that Seri does indeed want to ply his trade at a higher level again from next season – but at this rate, Fulham will be there alongside him.