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Could this be our Premier League starting XI?

Written by Arthur Duke on 10th June 2022

In a joint post, Arthur Duke and Cayden Dorman look at how the Whites could line up on 6 August in the Premier League.

In this piece I’ve teamed up with Cayden Dorman, an admin of the popular Instagram account, FulhamFanpage11. We’ve decided to tackle the biggest question surrounding Fulham right now: where does Tony Kahn need to invest and what players could fit the Marco Silva Mould? 

The following XI is set out in a 4-2-3-1 shape, but it has the potential to be dynamic with the types of players we’ve picked. I’ll cover the goalkeeper up to the first CDM, and Cayden will justify our choices for the remaining spots. Ultimately, we’ve chosen this team on the balance of data, credible transfer rumours and opportunities in the market.

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GK: Thomas Strakosha

It feels like an eternity since Fulham’s fielded the same goalkeeper in back-to-back seasons, and that looks set to continue. Given the edgy moments surrounding Rodak this season, Fulham have inevitably been linked with a plethora of goalkeeping targets. The list so far has included Henderson, Pope, Areola, and of course our shot-stopper of choice, Thomas Strakosha. 

He presents a unique opening in the market. Other targets have both wage and transfer fee hurdles, all aspects of a deal that make a move for Strakosha more plausible. And Strakosha isn’t short of experience – and success – at the highest level; he’s got his hands on four trophies during a nine-year spell at Lazio. 

Strakosha is a keeper who fits Silva’s mould; he’s known for his strong abilities with the ball at his feet, evident in his 81.1% pass success rate in 23 Serie A appearances last season. It shows that Marco can rely on Strakosha to start passing progressions from deep. His weaknesses of handling long range shots can no doubt be improved under the mentorship of Hugo Oliveira. With that said, Strakosha would be a great shout to come in and start in between the sticks in this XI.

RB: Kenny Tete

The right-back berth has been the subject of much speculation over the last couple of weeks. Fulham have been linked with the return of both Ryan Fredericks and Neco Williams and while these would not necessarily be bad moves, we believe Tete is the best option available to start next season. 

For a start, Kenny’s already on our books, allowing funds to be allocated elsewhere. In addition, he’s an established defender at the highest level having played a role in the latter stages of the Champions League, Ligue 1 and of course Premier League campaigns in the past. 

He’s versatile; this is clear from his role in Scott Parker’s pragmatic back five a couple of seasons ago, as well as a more advanced role in Silva’s system. It’s going to be crucial next season for this Fulham team to supply Mitrovic, and Tete provides an avenue to create danger on that right-hand side. Given that both Williams and Odoi have departed within the last six months, it’s still important to reinforce this position, but we shouldn’t drop Tete for a new signing.

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RCB: Tosin Adarabioyo

It’s no surprise that Tosin keeps his place in this 11, with the real question being: how long can Fulham keep hold of him? And how do we build a defensive unit around him? Tosin has been nothing short of fantastic in the 21/22 campaign; on the rare occurrences he’s been unavailable we’ve had a huge problem, resulting in painful defeats to Sheffield United (A) and Coventry City (A). 

To echo what’s common knowledge now, Tosin is strong defensively and just as good in opposing scenarios. He averaged 74.7 passes per game last campaign, achieving a pass success rate of 86.8% in the process. In addition, Tosin has been the heartbeat of our defensive stability, making on average 1.2 interceptions and 3.6 clearances per game. At 24 years of age, he’s destined for the very top – but it’s essential that he remains in our back four if we’re to achieve survival.

LCB: Nathen Ake

Fulham are in desperate need of centre-back reinforcements as result of Michel Hector and Alfie Mawson departing, alongside the ageing status of veteran Tim Ream. Fulham as a result have been rumoured to have interest in multiple candidates, including James Tarkowski, Ko Ikatura, Joe Gomez, Alexander Djiku and Levi Colwill. The centre-back we have picked to partner Tosin is not linked with a move to SW6, but is surely on Tony Khan’s radar.

Nathen Ake joined Manchester City (on a five-year deal) from relegated Bournemouth for a transfer fee of £40m back in 2020. But given his lack of appearances (just six starts in the premier league last season), his price tag should be significantly lower than the fee paid two years ago. Ake would also sit relatively well with the Fulham squad, having briefly crossed paths with Tosin at Manchester City and also having spent a year with Harry Wilson at Bournemouth. He’s also represented his country alongside Kenny Tete. And after coming through the academy at Chelsea, a move back to London may suit all parties.

It’s not just the interesting links that make Ake a suitable candidate. Seeing as he’s had a lack of appearances for Manchester City. It’s best to look at his time scrapping for survival with Bournemouth. In that time, he exceeded most numbers Tosin put up in the last championship season, with two goals and two assists alongside a pass success rate of 87.6% and an average of 2.1 aerial duels won per game. He’s a ball-playing centre-back with a willingness to move the ball forward and quickly, which can only fit into what Silva wants to replicate in the Premier League. 

As a result, Ake fits next to Tosin in this back four. And should this move materialise, between £20m and £30m would be the negotiating ground between Fulham and the Premier League champions.

LB: Alex Moreno

I’d be lying if I said we’d planned to include Alex Moreno at left-back in our initial draft of this piece. However, Matt Targett sealing his permanent switch to Newcastle meant we had to redirect our attention to other suitors, which may not necessarily be a bad thing.

Alex Moreno has had concrete links to Fulham, and a potential move looks to be advancing in the right direction. An initial price tag set at €15 million by Real Betis was met with a €12 million bid by Fulham. And after this proposal was turned down. Reports suggest the two clubs are close to agreeing a final fee. On the players front, there seems to be no issues with a reported four-year deal already in place.

When we look at the stats that Moreno has put up last season, Moreno could certainly be a transfer that flies under the radar and surprise a lot of people. Moreno is known for being strong and consistent in the defensive third; last season he averaged 2.5 tackles and 2.3 clearances per game in the Spanish top flight. 

The real question marks lie in his impact in the offensive third. His crossing and general long passing abilities have been criticised in the past. However, the Spanish left back scored five and assisted three in the 2021/22 LaLiga campaign, and when looking at his average heat map above, he certainly has the foundations to elevate his game to the next level. It’s also worth noting that Antonee Robinson had similar flaws in his game that left us Fulham fans frustrated last time in the Premier League, but Marco Silva and his backroom staff were able to improve his crossing abilities, which contributed to the 106 occasions that Fulham put the ball in the back of the net last term. With a more established and well-rounded left-back, Moreno would have serious potential under Marco Silva’s tutelage.

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CDM: Al-Musrati

To partner Harrison Reed in the middle of the park comes a player with concrete links to Fulham; he’s even rumoured to have put off an international call up with Libya in order to make his move to Craven Cottage happen.

Al-Musrati is currently on the books at Braga and operates as either a box-to-box midfielder in the number eight role, or in front of the back four as a six. His stats point to his key strengths being with the ball at his feet, and being able to hit passing targets from distance. He’s also accurate in delivering set pieces. 

In offensive areas, Al-Musrati tends to be conserved in taking on players, and opts to use his passing ability to break teams down. The more I go on, the more I begin to draw comparisons to Jean Michel Seri and while most of us believe Seri warranted a new deal, Al-Musrati could provide a better option as a younger player and as a result, consistency in the team.

The rumours and stats are more than enough to warrant Al-Musrati in a midfield three with Reed and our third midfield choice.

CDM: Harrison Reed

Harrison Reed has certainly been a standout player since his arrival in SW6. His work rate and vision is top tier, and his efforts are still yet to be rewarded with a goal, which his teammates have made clear to him. Reed will be hoping to display his qualities yet again in the Premier League after a promising season with Parker in the top flight. His tenacity and will to win is visible to all us, giving him the nickname “Ginger Iniesta” and recognition throughout England comparing him to Kalvin Phillips and some even saying Harrison is better. I’m sure a lot of people will be pleased to see Reed’s name on the team sheet next season.

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CAM: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has proven a bench-warmer in recent years at Liverpool, and while we haven’t been linked with him, I believe that he could bolster our midfield and allow us to attack with intention. After watching the Ox for many years, it’s clear that he loves a shot from outside the box, which is something we lacked in many games last season, albeit winning the league and scoring 106 goals. 

Alex’s creativity and Champions League experience could help the Whites retain their Premier League status. Many Fulham fans’ eyes would light up if Tony could make the move happen and the Fulham faithful will be praying his wicked right foot can save us from despair once again. Let’s hope the versatile Liverpool midfielder craves a move back to London for this season.

RW: Harry Wilson

With some key players ready to step up to the big league, Harry Wilson is certainly one to keep an eye on. His inch-perfect crosses onto the head of Mitrovic this past season have proven deadly to the Championship defences, and if he can provide his qualities this coming season, safety could come easier than anticipated. Should something go wrong within the squad, Harry’s versatility to play at the point of the midfield could come in handy if Marco can work out a worthwhile solution.

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LW: Manor Solomon

One player Fulham have been targeting all summer is the 22-year-old Israel international, Manor Solomon. His technical ability on the ball is one of the best, if not the best, Israel has ever seen. Solomon is small in size, but very strong physically, which could benefit this Fulham team under Marco Silva as he likes players who can dominate on the pitch. His goals tally may not be anything special, but the goals he scores certainly are. 

Solomon would be coming into the team as both a Carvalho and Kebano replacement as he’s versatile and can operate in those positions best. Fulham fans will be hoping Manor will be tempted to Stevenage Road by the attacking mentality Silva brings to the club, giving him the best opportunity for success. A deal worth a reported £7m is certainly one Tony Khan should snap up.

ST: Alexander Mitrovic

Another player eager to prove himself after a few rough seasons in the Prem would be Aleksander Mitrovic. His physical strength and tactical awareness inside the box was by far the greatest in the Championship, and he looks worthy of another chance in Europe’s greatest league. It’s safe to say that Marco Silva has brought out the Hulk in Mitrovic, helping him not only break, but destroy records people could only dream of. Mitrovic will be desperate to prove haters wrong and prove his worth to the Premier League.

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