In his debut piece, Timothy Spaeth imagines a rather different transfer window ahead of the Whites’ second Premier League campaign.
In isolation, Fulham’s arrivals were not bad signings. Even if not immediately adding to the first XI, all are at minimum valuable depth options that add to the squad compared to last year.
However, there are two primary issues with the build, both of which are indicative of Fulham’s lack of recruitment infrastructure. The age curve issue (I believe last season Fulham had the oldest average age for the starting XI), as well as the lack of ‘lower fee’ signings, for players whose sell-on value can be developed.
Thus, a shift in strategy must occur towards targeting younger players to address the age issue. There will also be more ‘lower fee’ signings (£4-12m range), as this price point is ideal for developing players and maximising sell-on value.
This is how I’d have reworked our strategy:
- Address full-back depth, bring in younger players who provide similar traits to Tete/Robinson
- Bring in a left-sided CB, with solid ball playing ability/duels/mobility
- Bring in a six/eight hybrid who is primarily a ball-winner/can pay shuttler role
- Bring in winger who is a good receiver in half-spaces/an effective presser, and can play centrally
- Address the lack of forwards/wingers who are effective in transition
1. Address full-back depth
Aleksa Terzic (£4.75m) (joined RB Salzburg) (24 years-old)
Thiery Correira (£10m – estimated) (24 years-old) (alternative: Kiliann Sildillia)
Antonee Robinson and Kenny Tete have arguably been the best signings of Tony Khan’s reign as Fulham’s DoF. Both were signed for less than £5m, and have blossomed into players worth at minimum, three-to-four times that. Bringing in young full-back depth, provides succession planning, while also ensuring that the fees paid bring the potential for sell on value down the line. Both Terzic and Correira are vertical, athletic full-backs, who could comfortably also provide important, short-term depth.
2. Bring in one CB
Hiroki Ito (£15m – estimated) (24 years-old) (Alternative: Calvin Bassey or David Hancko)
The signing of Calvin Bassey was very much a bet on his time at Rangers, where he was excellent at duels and covered space quite well, while not being the most adept at building out of the back. Although the fee was a bit steep, I have no issue with his signing, although I think Hiroki Ito could provide similar value at a lesser fee.
3. Buy one or two DM/CMs
Ellyes Skhiri (free) (28 years-old) (joined Eintracht Frankfurt)
Skhiri is sort of a Palhinha clone, although he also has spent time playing as an eight, meaning in certain game situations, he could be paired with him. He would also be a ready-made replacement for Palhinha were he to leave. Skhiri joined Eintracht Frankfurt this summer on a free, meaning he would have been available.
4. Target two wingers
Dan Ndoye (£7.75m) (22 years-old) (joined Bologna) (alternative: Patrick Wimmer)
Marcus Edwards (£30m – estimated) (24 years old)
Ndoye has immediately looked comfortable in Serie A after a transfer from Basel in the summer. He’s an effective dribbler, effective presser, and is a threat in behind. I think his short-term value is immediately satisfied given the fee and he projects to potentially be worth a significantly greater amount in the future.
Marcus Edwards would be an immediate starter. He’s excellent at breaking down low blocks, with his value at receiving between the lines across all the zones, as well as his ability to escape out of pressure because of his dribbling and deceleration/accelerations. He is also effective at staying wide, where he can use his excellent one on one dribbling ability to cut in on his left. Edwards isn’t a super effective presser, and not a huge threat in behind, but in conjunction with Ndoye, I think both would provide useful profiles for Silva’s game model.
5a. Get in a hybrid winger or attacking midfielder
Alexis Saelamaekers (Loan) (£7.5m buy clause) (24 years-old) (joined Bologna)
Alexis Flips (£3m) (23 years-old) (joined Anderlecht)
Adding someone who can cover both the half-space/winger role of Willian, as well as the central role of Pereira seems to be what Silva wanted with Iwobi. While I’m a huge fan of Iwobi, given his age, and the fee it took to bring him, I think there were cheaper options on the market, who added more long-term value at a more budget price. Both Alexis Saelamaekers and Alexis Flips are effective pressers, who add value receiving in the half-spaces while also providing the option of playing centrally. While I don’t think either have incredibly high ceilings, both are useful squad players who could certainly be sold for a profit down the line.
5b. Buy two forwards
Anastasios Douvikas (£10.3m) (24 years-old) (joined Celta Vigo) (alternative: Beto)
Raul Jiménez (£5m)
I liked the idea of the Raul Jiménez signing. His all-around play and pressing has been solid so far, and I think reclamation projects for older players at low fees is an effective way to use the transfer market. However, I think it would have been optimal to have signed him in conjunction with a younger forward who can be developed. Douvikas could potentially become one of the domineering forwards that some Premier League teams utilise (Watkins or Solanke), while providing a goal threat as well. While it is difficult to know to what degree he could contribute in the short-term, at the price point he went for Douvikas would have made sense.
Average age of incomings: 25.1
Total net spend= £85.8 million
Adama, Castagne, and Iwobi all added to Fulham’s squad. However, they did not provide the needed refresh. Thus, the average age of the incomings was 24.9. Furthermore, besides Edwards, all the incomings were of relatively low net fees. While it is impossible to know how realistic all these signings/fees were, this was intended to display how a squad refresh is possible at somewhat low fees. I’m unsure if this would have exactly fit in with FFP, but considering the possibility of fee amortisation as well as the Mitro sale, I believe it would have comfortably fit in.