While Tom Cairney filled in admirably towards the end of the season, Fulham’s lack of depth in the number 10 position is a worry that’s only been highlighted more by the injury sustained to Pereira, which could even see him miss the start of the 2023/24 season. George Rossiter looks at four players that could solve that issue and compete with Pereira for a starting spot when he returns.
1. Saif-Eddine Khaoui
Khaoui is a Tunisian international with 28 caps and four goals for his country. Joining Clermont from Marseille in 2021, his contract recently expired, and could present Fulham with an opportunity for a bargain. His goal contributions last season in Ligue 1 totalled 10, level with Pereira’s 10 in the Premier League. At 28, Khaoui still has a lot to give and won’t arrive with the ego of a player believing the shirt will be his to keep from the off.
One of Pereira’s biggest strengths last season was his ability to press from the front and win the ball high and create chances, either for himself or for a teammate. Both players averaged a little more than two shots per 90 last season as well as both averaging comfortably more than three shot-creating actions per game last season. If Fulham are set on Pereira instantly having the shirt back when he returns, Khaoui provides a similar style of player who can fit in when needed while costing Fulham no more than a weekly wage.
2. Thiago Almada
Almada would be a seriously ambitious signing for Fulham. The now full Argentina international has burst onto the scene in MLS with a number of wonderful performances for Atlanta United. Signed from Velez Sarsfield in 2022, Almada has quickly established himself as one of MLS’s biggest talents and suitors are gathering in Europe rapidly.
In 2023 alone, Almada is averaging nearly a goal contribution a game. While it can’t be guaranteed that these numbers translate to Premier League football, it proves he’s an alternative option to Pereira with heaps of quality. He is much more of a traditional 10, wanting to be on the ball, running past players and making things happen. His pass completion of more than 80% this year is impressive and in Pereira’s absence he would prove to be another superb dead-ball option, scoring some wonderful free-kicks for Atlanta.
3. Malik Tillman
For much of the 2022/23 season, Pereira was pressing so high up the pitch that at times it felt as if Fulham were playing 4-4-2 with Pereira as the second striker playing off of Mitrovic. Tillman is a player who could potentially do that role brilliantly. Bayern have recently bought out Rangers’ option to buy the player, believing they can get a larger fee, with Premier League clubs such as Brentford and Brighton showing interest (which probably shows he’d be a good signing as it is).
Tillman was hugely impressive for Rangers last season, scoring 12 times and assisting a further five during his first full season playing senior football. He also showed his versatility, often filling in out wide or even up front as Rangers changed system mid game. At just 21, Tillman would be an exciting pick-up with lots of room for growth and would further extend the Fulhamerica trend.
4. Aleksandr Golovin
Statistically, Golovin excelled for Monaco in 2022/23 as he played a greater part in their attacking play and showed why he had become one of Europe’s most wanted players after a brilliant 2018 World Cup on home soil in Russia. The 27-year-old’s eight goals and seven assists from midfield for Monaco last season only go some way to showing his ability. While Golovin’s pass completion and passes attempted numbers were poor last season when compared to similar players across Europe, he still found himself in the top quarter of attacking midfielders for assists in 22/23.
Golovin found himself in the top 10% across Europe in his position for goals, assists, shot-creating actions, progressive carries, attacking touches and progressive passes received. This shows the influence in the final third he can have from an advanced midfield position. As well as this, his interceptions numbers are promising and show his ability to press high and win the ball as Pereira often does. At 27, Golovin is hitting his prime and he’d be a great addition at Fulham.