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Four centre-backs to fill Fulham’s defensive void

8th July 2024

Trevoh Chalobah. Rights obtained from IMAGO.

Cameron Donaldson looks at some potential recruits to bolster our thinning defensive ranks

As another day of the transfer window passes, the issue of our centre-backs becomes more pressing. The Whites currently only have Tim Ream, Calvin Bassey, and Issa Diop as the senior centre-backs. With Ream being heavily linked with a return to the MLS it’s possible that a few weeks we’ll have just two senior centre-backs on our books with no impending arrivals to fill the void. So, in a bid to stem my impending panic, here are four CBs we should target this summer – some have already been rumoured, and some haven’t.

Trevoh Chalobah

This has been the longest running CB rumour of the close season. 24-year-old Chalobah was deployed 17 times by Mauricio Pochettino last season and predominantly played as a right-sided centre-half, with the ability to deputise at right-back and as a defensive midfielder.

He became a key cog in the Chelsea system towards the end of the season, with assured and mature displays in an unstable Chelsea side. Should a deal be struck, a fee of around £25m has been indicated, representing a sizeable investment for Fulham, however one that could provide defensive stability in the long term as he’s still young.

This is a deal that Fulham should look to explore, however with the passing of the PSR deadline, a deal for Chalobah will become less likely as it will not provide Chelsea with any important profit to keep in line with profit and sustainability rules.

Teden Mengi

Another player linked is Teden Mengi of Luton Town. Mengi joined the Hatters from Manchester United last summer and played 35 times, scoring one goal as they were narrowly relegated from the Premier League, with many of their displays capturing the admiration of opposition fans.

The 22-year-old adapted well to the side, making many key defensive interventions and providing assurance in the backline on the most part, however sometimes losing concentration and making an error or two that proved to be detrimental to the team’s progress. Overall, the 22-year-old was a solid performer and, similar to Chalobah, Mengi would be able to fill in on the right-hand side of the defence for a long period of time if bought for a suitable fee, however he may need some coaching from Marco Silva to ensure he is consistently playing with the maturity and concentration required in the Premier League.

Kevin Danso

Ex-Southampton centre-back Danso hasn’t been rumoured to join the club, but he’s a player who’d would fit the bill. The 25-year-old represents Lens in Ligue 1, making 30 appearances and playing 87% of the minutes for his team last season, scoring one goal as the side finished seventh in the league.

Danso has also gained admiration for his defensive displays at EURO 2024 for the Austrian national team, as they finished top of a group consisting of France, The Netherlands and Poland, before bowing out to a terrific display from Turkey in the round of 16. Danso is a combative presence and a ball-playing centre-back valued at €25m by TransferMarkt and would represent a sensible investment should the player want to move back to England.

Joel Matip

It’s important to note that for a club like Fulham investing in a specific area of the pitch, we wont be able to spend £25m on each centre-back we recruit with an eye to investment in other areas, so suggesting a name or two who could provide depth and fill in when required is crucial, and Joel Matip could provide this.

The 32-year-old has just been released by Liverpool, having played 10 games last season and conceding eight goals and keeping three clean sheets, with an estimated 1.38 tackles and 1.15 interceptions for every 90 minutes that he completed. Although this would not be a signing of ambition, this could be important as Matip would be able to use his experience gained at Liverpool to help in and around the squad and although he shouldn’t be played in too many games, he should be able to deputise when required. This signing would represent an improvement on the likes of Shane Duffy and would fill in for some of the experience that Tim Ream may leave.

Overall, the centre-back situation isn’t looking overly promising for the Whites at this stage with no concrete steps in improving the position and further exits forecast. But it’s far too early to worry.

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