Drew says our refusal to spend money on our third summer signing raises a few red flags.
Our third signing of the window is here. The one we’ve been waiting for. The one the club’s been chasing. Manor Solomon is finally here – exciting, right? Well, on the surface, yes. But I’m left with a sour taste in my mouth. Here’s why.
Yes – football is a business. There’s no room for sentimentality, and so the cliches go. But there’s a moral issue with the outcome of this deal. By dragging our heels and waiting for FIFA’s 30 June deadline to pass, which enables foreign players at Ukrainian clubs to suspend their contracts for a year, we’ve ensured that Shakhtar Donetsk end up with a young player with just six months left of his contract next summer.
Fulham’s official release simply states that Manor has signed “on a deal until 30 June 2023”, however Shakhtar’s CEO says the deal should’ve been longer, telling The Athletic: “We had almost exchanged contracts and agreed everything, but when FIFA issued this decision, they (Fulham) sent us an email to say that because of the FIFA decision, we are withdrawing our contracts and conditions and everything and we will take this player. There is completely nothing we can do to stop that. He signed a contract with them and is a Fulham player.”
Sure, this perennial Champions League club might not need the reported £7m we were initially set to spend, but talk about kicking someone when they’re down. Is it a shrewd business move? In the long run, I’m not so sure.
Try before you lose
We’ve been here before, haven’t we? OK, so this is our first ‘loan’ signing of the window – but you can bet your bottom dollar it won’t be the last. And what’s more, we know the stats – as Dan so eloquently summed up last month; those clubs with more loan players struggle to stay in the Premier League. Hell – we’re the walking case study.
For £7m we could have signed a player that’s been tracked by more than a handful of Champions League clubs – many of which play in the Premier League. So, if he performs as we hope he will in 2022/23, you can rest assured that those clubs will swoop faster than a seagull homing in on your bag of chips.
Not to mention the elephant in the room here – the option to buy. It’s not mentioned in the official announcement, and as yet it’s not reported anywhere. If there’s no option, then this deal looks even more short-sighted.
Why not pay now, with the plan of making money in a year or two years’ time? Were we not confident in Solomon’s ability to deliver? Only Tony Khan and his team can answer that question.
Ultimately, this just smacks of a club that refuses to learn from the mistakes of the past. And we know from previous meetings with the excellent Fulham Supporters Trust, that the board don’t believe mistakes were made. I think we’ll agree to disagree on that one.
I’d love this article to be quote tweeted by ‘Worst Fulham Takes’ next summer when we snap Manor up permanently following a stellar campaign. But it won’t be for £7m that’s for sure, so I’m pretty sure I’m safe.
This season is survive or bust. So maybe the club’s not looking beyond next summer. But this feels like a mistake.