The Southampton skipper is rumoured to be keen on a move to SW6, and Macsen Morgan takes a closer look at the midfielder.
The rumour mill keeps spinning, this time pointing the Whites down to the south coast looking once again for a CM. James Ward-Prowse has become a figure in the Premier League for his notorious free-kick-taking abilities, which we saw in full force in the games against Southampton at the Cottage in December, but would he be a good all-round signing to strengthen Fulham’s midfield?
A graduate of the Saints academy, Ward-Prowse made his first team debut in 2011 and has become a star player in red and white, becoming captain in 2020. He’s known for being a dead ball specialist and is the Premier League’s second-most prolific free-kick taker. At 28 years old he does seem to be hitting his prime.
Although all the talk is about his set-piece precision, JWP provides much more to the team than free-kick goals. Although he can play on the right wing, he has established himself in a central role, he is well adapted to playing in both a 4-4-2 and in Silva’s preferred 4-2-3-1 where he plays as one of the deeper midfielders. He plays as a deep-lying playmaker and looks to find penetrating runs behind opposition defenders.
Although he can play more advanced, Ward-Prowse is more used to a defensive position when Southampton are on the break. He also provides a safe passing option to set up an attack. His unique advantage over his competition is of course his incredible dead ball skills from penalties and free kicks. However, he lacks in the dribbling department with only a 47% success rate and he is much more likely to look for a pass than take on his defender. His stamina and determination are quite unmatched and he is one of the only players to play every minute in two consecutive Premier League seasons.
Yes or no?
Ward-Prowse’s major disadvantage is his age – he’s the same age as fellow Southampton graduate Reed. He does possess many of the Same qualities as Harrison, such as a high defensive work rate and is better than him at some such as vision and passing. However, JWP does come with a price tag of around £30m and would add even more age to the oldest squad in the Premier League. Although this is the case, my call is that if we can negotiate a deal for £25m or less, he would be a great signing.