Macsen Morgan looks at our Welsh teen star and asks what his future is in SW6.
In light of Luke Harris signing a contract extension this month, keeping him at the Cottage until at least 2026, I’ve had a look at whether he’s close to breaking onto the first-team scene and even if he is, is he the right fit for Fulham?
For those who don’t yet know…
Luke Harris is a Jersey-born, Welsh youth international who mainly plays for Fulham’s U21 sides, and he was a massive part in the U23s’ promotion from the youth division 2 to the PL2 last season. During that campaign he bagged 16 goals and chalked up three assists in 25 games in all competitions. He has also made five appearances for the first team this season totalling around 100 minutes.
How does he play?
His primary position is a CAM, but he plays like a proper poacher, with the majority of his seven goals so far this season coming primarily from crosses and miscued clearances inside the box. He has also played as a shadow striker and at CF; he demonstrates great dribbling ability being able to get past many opponents with ease. However, his defensive workrate is not quite there and if he was to compete with a midfielder as hard working as Andreas Pereira then that is a something that really needs to be improved upon.
Where should he play?
Although Harris mainly plays at CAM, his goalscoring ability has opened the door to whether he can play as an out-and-out striker, but there’s a problem with this. Standing at just 5 foot 9, he might not have the physical presence the box that Mitrovic and Vinicius possess, this means that the team’s system would have to be altered and as we have seen when Silva put De Cordova-Reid up top against Brighton. This Fulham side requires someone to be the focal point of the attack, and this is a role that I don’t think Luke Harris can fulfil.
Now we go to Luke’s natural playing position, which is where he plays primarily for Fulham’s youth set-up. He certainly possesses some of the abilities that are required for a world-class attacking midfielder. His dribbling and composure are really good for a player of his age and his finishing really suits someone who would play in a shadow striker role. His passing is also one of his better attributes and this suits someone who would play in the CAM role.
However, as mentioned before, his defending does require some work and people have picked up, Pereira contributes quite a lot to the defensive cohort of the Whites’ midfield, but as mentioned in a recent Fulhamish piece, the Brazilian has been looking in need of a break and this could be Harris’s opportunity to get onto the first team stage.
Is he ready?
We also need to think about whether our number 38 is ready for first-team action and the fact that this needs to happen gradually so as to not put too much pressure on the young Welshman. The Wales manager Robert Page has been trying to balance this by showing that the country values him as a player by giving him the number 11 shirt previously worn by Gareth Bale. However, he also didn’t come on in the 1-1 draw with Croatia or the win over Latvia, which might indicate that he could need a bit more time before becoming a first-team player.
In my opinion, I think that Luke Harris definitely has the potential to become one of the star players for Fulham, but I don’t believe that he’s ready for the Premier League and won’t be for at least a season or two. I think that while he has potential, he needs first team playing time to reach that. To do this, I would suggest a loan move to the Championship to allow him to build confidence and experience that only first-team football can create.