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Five Fulham transfers that got away

Written by George Rossiter on 4th June 2022

George Rossiter looks at five players that were rumoured to join Fulham for so long you’d be forgiven for thinking they played for us.

On 19 April, with promotion secured, Israeli winger Manor Solomon was given the famous “here we go” treatment for a confirmed transfer to Craven Cottage on a deal worth around £7.5m. Fast forward a month and it seems the gun was jumped. Whether it be agents looking for higher fees or interest from other clubs, the deal looks to be dying a slow death. But we’ve been here before, haven’t we? Getting excited over signings which seem inevitable, but don’t quite get over the finish line. Here’s a look at a few of the more prominent recent names, and where they are now.

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Diego Rolan

In the 2017 summer transfer window, Fulham seemed to have their eyes set on a new number nine, with previous season’s loanee Chris Martin heading back to Derby County. While the window ended with Rui Fonte and Aboubakar Kamara joining the club, the biggest saga of the summer involved Uruguayan forward Diego Rolan, who at the time was at French club Bordeaux.

In mid-July, Sky reported that a deal worth £5m was all but complete, with the striker even showing on his social media that he was in the country watching a session of tennis at Wimbledon. Alas, a deal never materialised. Since that summer, Rolan has spent short but often unsuccessful stints in Spain with Malaga, Deportivo La Coruna, Leganes and Alaves. He’s now in his second stint with Mexican club Jaurez, where he has scored 12 goals in 34 appearances, it is safe to say that Fulham probably didn’t miss out, with Rolan not able to continue the successes he achieved in a half a decade spell between 2013 and 2017 which saw him achieve 25 caps for Uruguay and 33 goals in 121 appearances for Bordeaux.

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In the same window that Rolan was linked, Fulham were said to have had an offer accepted for around £7.5m for forward Jota from West-London rivals Brentford. The Spaniard, who three years earlier had scored a last-minute winner for the Bees at Craven Cottage, ended up joining Birmingham City and Harry Redknapp on deadline day, and went onto play 72 times across three seasons for the Midlands club, before joining rivals Aston Villa upon their promotion to the Premier League in 2019.

Despite appearing on 23 occasions for most recent club Alaves in the 20/21 season, Jota has found himself without a club for the last year. Interestingly, the forward has a singular international cap for the Galicia national football team, which came in a friendly against Venezuela in 2016.

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Timo Baumgartl

In October 2020, with the transfer window expanding beyond its regular deadlines due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fulham were in desperate need for defensive reinforcements. With defeats in our opening four games, conceding 10 in the opening three against Arsenal, Leeds and Aston Villa, Fulham were reported to be interested in Joachim Andersen, Tosin Adarabioyo and Timo Baumgartl.

While the former two signed on the dotted line, The Athletic first reported that Baumgartl had completed a medical with the club ahead of a season-long loan with an option to buy. Within hours of said report, the deal collapsed, with Baumgartl eventually staying for another season with PSV. While still on the books of the Dutch club, the centre-back spent last season with German side Union Berlin, playing 16 times as Union found their way into a Europa League spot.

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Another of the defenders linked to Fulham in the summer of 2020 was the Brazilian, Marlon Santos. The centre-back, at the time with Sassuolo, was heavily linked to the club in a proposed £15m move. Respected Italian reporter Gianluca Di Marzio claimed a medical had taken place on 24 September for the ex-Barcelona defender, however after a few days, reports elsewhere suggested the medical had been failed and that any potential deal had completely collapsed, leaving Fulham looking elsewhere for options at the back, which as we know, never materialised until the summer deadline. Marlon signed for Ukrainian heavyweights Shakhtar Donetsk in the summer of 2021 on a long-term deal but has found his game time stalled due to the current situation in Ukraine.

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Kara Mbodji

Potentially the lesser-known deal that nearly came to completion in recent years was that of Senegalese centre-back Kara Mbodji. During the big summer spend of 2018, which saw names such as Anguissa, Seri and Mitrovic sign permanently with the club, decisions were also being made at Motspur Park around defensive reinforcements. After impressing in Belgium with Genk and Anderlecht, Fulham saw Mbodji as a potentially impressive signing in the centre-back position, and when Alfie Mawson had some complications with his medical, Mbodji was seen as the alternative.

However, with a deal all but confirmed for around £4.5m, Tony Khan called the deal off and instead opted to sign Mawson, despite said complications. Mbodji now plays in Qatar and has 47 caps for his home nation Senegal, most recently representing them in 2019. 

Every name is a case of “what could have been”, and Manor Solomon might fall into that bracket too, alongside other names not previously mentioned like Youssouf Sabaly, or even Jason Koumas. What is for sure is that Fulham and Marco Silva have plenty of big decisions to make in the transfer market as Fulham head into a third Premier League campaign in five seasons. Some will come close, some will disappoint, that’s the fun of it all. Who knows, maybe this is the year we sign Dwight Gayle (I hope not!).

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