George Rossiter scours the free agent pool to see if there are any bargains to be had ahead of our pre-World Cup run of eight games.
Other than being Fulham greats, what do Micky Adams, Kit Symons, Mark Schwarzer and Danny Murphy have in common? They all signed for Fulham as free agents. After Marco Silva and the club released their registered squad list for the Premier League season, one space is left, and it could potentially be filled by a free signing if necessary.
The gap that needs filling
A lot of fans agree that while Fulham have had a fantastic window, spending cleverly on quality players, we may be light in midfield. Nathaniel Chalobah appears the only real deputy for Reed and Palhinha, even with Onomah finding his way onto the squad list. With Palhinha vulnerable to suspensions, which midfielders are available on the market? Here are a couple of options…Embed from Getty Images
The Serbian international has recently become a free agent after nearly a decade of playing in La Liga, culminating in 220 appearances combined for Celta Vigo and Levante, the latter of which he played for until his release this summer. Making his international debut in 2016, Radoja also has experience playing in the Europa League for Celta and Serbian side FK Vojvodina Novi Sad. The Serb is a combative holding midfielder and would add much needed depth, quality and experience to the midfield ranks at Craven Cottage.Embed from Getty Images
Delph is available after a recent spell at Goodison Park, and has amassed 204 Premier League appearances during spells at Aston Villa, Manchester City and Everton. In that time, Delph accumulated 20 caps for England alongside two Premier League titles at the Etihad. At 32 years old, he may no longer be in his prime, but still has a lot to offer. Not only has he shown himself to be a combative midfielder who isn’t afraid of a tackle, but his versatility is something Marco Silva would cherish, as Delph showed especially well, filling in at left-back for City.
A sensible option for depth
Injuries and suspensions happen, so having a utility man anywhere in the squad is always welcome. Take a Bobby De-Cordova Reid or an Ola Aina. That sort of player who can play many positions is vital. Equally, there will be certain positions, such as in the centre of defence, where if an injury crisis arises, having multiple bodies in one position will help to avoid filling square holes with a circular peg, so to say.
Obviously Fulham have heavily strengthened their attacking options, especially on Deadline Day with the acquisitions of Dan James, Willian and Carlos Vinicius. However, with Wilson and Solomon sustaining mid to long-term recent injuries and Willian and James not currently tied down for next season in any capacity, a forward capable of playing anywhere across the front-line with recent Premier League experience who could stick around for a few seasons would be sensible. Someone who fills that quota is Matej Vydra, recently of Burnley.
Hear me out. Granted if I wanted someone to return I could have chosen Adel Taarabt, or Zakaria Labyad, but this one makes a bit more sense. While Nordveit’s previous spell at the club in the second half of the 2018/19 season was nothing spectacular, he was hardly a failure in a failing team – he was solid. The Norwegian international has 52 caps and was recently released by Hoffenheim, of whom he came on loan from a few years ago. He would prove an experienced figure in the camp. Furthermore, the man has plenty of experience stepping into a holding midfielder role, a position we need, as well as offering another steady option at centre-back if problems arise there.
The dream returnEmbed from Getty Images
Do I think bringing in a 35-year-old recently released by Chinese side Guangzhou City is sensible? Probably not. Do I think Dembele will be the player he was at Fulham a decade ago, earning himself a move to Tottenham? Probably not. Do I dream of a midfield pairing of Palhinha and Dembele where Fulham literally never ever lose the ball in the middle of the park? Every single night.
The dream… full stop?Embed from Getty Images
Granted, this idea is absolutely bonkers. 68 goals in 132 caps for Uruguay, 195 goals for Barcelona, 111 for Ajax, 82 for Liverpool, 34 for Atletico Madrid etc… Suarez is undoubtedly one of the best of this generation. But the legendary striker will leave his contract with Nacional when the Uruguayan domestic season comes to a close in the Autumn, so who knows, stranger things have happened… right?