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Fulham must avoid a Ragnar Sigurdsson-esque mistake this summer

The Cottagers must be careful how they approach the post-World Cup transfer market.

Max Cohen



Ragnar Sigurdsson
Photo: Getty Images

One of the joys of international tournaments is the unearthing of unheralded talents, yet many have a propensity to over-exaggerate players’ abilities and idolise unproven footballers who happen to have a good month.

Fulham must be wary of falling into this transfer hype yet again, as evidenced by their misguided signing of Euro 2016 star Ragnar Sigurdsson.

The purchase of the Icelandic centre-half is the perfect example of buying a player on the back of an impressive international tournament, only to see the signing flounder when he joined his new club.

Back in the summer of 2016, Sigurdsson drew plaudits for his outstanding defensive performances at the heart of the heroic Icelandic backline.

Most notably, Sigurdsson grabbed a goal in his country’s famous knockout victory over England, truly announcing himself to the British public. 

A month and a half later, he arrived at Motspur Park and signed a three year deal with Fulham. Surely, common reasoning went, a player who excelled against Europe’s elite would be at least an effective player for the Whites in the Championship.

(Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)

Yet, far from marshalling the Fulham defence with authority, Sigurdsson looked woefully off the pace at Craven Cottage and his performances were filled with lethargy, uncertainty, and costly mistakes.

In his only full season with Fulham, Sigurdsson made just 17 league appearances that resulted in three clean sheets.

Although there were some occasional bright moments, such as a Boxing Day goal away at Ipswich, Sigurdsson largely flattered to deceive at Craven Cottage and failed to establish himself as a convincing presence at the back.

The most embarrassing moment of his Fulham career came during a seemingly innocuous July 2017 friendly against Chelsea.

Sigurdsson marshalled a backline that was on the receiving end of an 8-2 thrashing by Fulham’s west London neighbours – a fitting end to the Iceland international’s forgettable time in SW6.

Behind the likes of Tomas Kalas, Tim Ream, and Denis Odoi in the centre of defence, Sigurdsson was shipped out on loan to Rostov at the start of the 2017/18 season, a move he made permanent in January.

Ragnar Sigurdsson remains a cautionary tale for eager Fulham fans yearning for the signing of a breakout World Cup star, as such a purchase can often be a risk not worth taking.

Max is a journalist studying at the University of Pennsylvania. Max specialises in English football and co-hosts a weekly podcast. He is also a politics reporter and deputy news editor for The Daily Pennsylvanian.

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Malcom should consider Fulham move despite Champions League interest

Jake Jackman



Fulham are set to enter the race to sign Bordeaux winger Malcom and offer competition to Inter Milan according to The Sun. The Serie A team had been leading the race after submitting an initial loan bid with an option to buy next year with the total package totalling £35.3 million.

However, the Cottagers have shown impressive ambition already this summer and could be prepared to buy the Brazilian permanently this summer.

The report goes on to say that Slavisa Jokanovic wants to add another pacy forward to his squad before the start of the season and Malcom is one of the players being looked at.

Bordeaux know that they are in a strong selling position and want at least £45 million for the talented Brazilian forward. He has previously been linked with Tottenham, Arsenal and Bayern Munich, but Fulham have previously shown they can pull off a deal such as this one.

(Photo credit should read MEHDI FEDOUACH/AFP/Getty Images)

The highly-rated Jean Michael Seri joined the newly-promoted club earlier this week and if they managed to sign Malcom, it would represent another coup. Fulham have been out of the Premier League for four seasons, but they don’t plan to make up the numbers now they have returned.

That is why Malcom should consider the club if the reported interest is genuine. Fulham are located in London and will be playing in one of the best leagues in the world. Although he will be looking for a Champions League move, the Cottagers would still represent a step up.

The Brazilian would have the opportunity to play regularly in the Premier League and that would make him a more rounded player, especially in terms of physicality. At the age of 21, he has plenty of years ahead of him. Fulham would provide a good environment in which to develop further before making the jump to the Champions League.

In addition to their location and division, Fulham play an exciting style of football under Jokanovic. They are encouraged to pass the ball and take risks in the final third. Malcom would thrive under such instruction and have a platform to attract concrete interest from bigger clubs.

(Photo credit should read NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP/Getty Images)

Last season, the 21-year-old caught the eye in Ligue 1 and emerged as one of the best players outside of PSG. He scored 12 goals and contributed seven assists, while his ball retention in the final third was impressive. Malcom ended the season with a pass success rate of 82.1%, while he averaged 2.5 key passes and 2.7 dribbles per game.

Fulham will know that there is no harm in selling themselves as a stepping-stone club in the interim period. It is an effective business model if done correctly and allows them to grow organically into a team that can challenge the top six. Given the resources of the Khan family, that seems to be the objective.

After the arrival of Jean Michael Seri, Fulham have sent a message to the rest of Europe that they have ambition and they want to continue progressing as a football club. Agents and players across the continent will have taken note.

Craven Cottage will now be a more attractive destination and reports linking them with players like Malcom shouldn’t be written off. This would be a good move for the Brazilian and if they can agree on a fee, they should be confident of pulling it off.

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Fulham’s signing of Jean Michael Seri will be coup of the summer

Jake Jackman



Photo: Getty Images

Fulham have pulled off one of the shock signings of the summer, as Nice midfielder Jean Michael Seri has joined the club for a record fee. The Guardian report that the fee is in the region of £25 million and that he has signed a four-year contract at Craven Cottage.

Over the past 12 months, the 26-year-old has been linked with Chelsea, Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal to name but three other interested clubs. Meanwhile, he came close to signing for Barcelona last summer.

It is a major coup for Fulham to sign the Ivorian, as they are a recently promoted club who haven’t been in the Premier League since 2014.

However, there is clear ambition among the ownership and this could be the first of several ambitious arrivals, as they attempt to establish themselves as a top division force once more.

Their location and style of play make them an appealing option for players, as shown by Seri’s decision to move to Craven Cottage.

(Photo by Anne-Christine Poujoulat/Getty Images)

Nice have been one of the most exciting teams in watch in Ligue 1 during recent seasons and they have managed to develop a host of exciting players.

Seri is regarded as one of the best to play in red and blue, as he has been at the heart of a team that has played attacking football and qualified for the Champions League. Although they didn’t reach the group stages, it was a huge achievement to get to the play-off round.

The 26-year-old is very much a modern-day central midfielder capable of excelling at a number of roles. He covers a lot of ground for his team and is always looking to improve himself as a player.

 “Jean Michael arrives with Premier League qualities as well as great promise for the future, which is why he has been at the very top of our target list for a long time.”

Tony Khan, on Jean Michael Seri.

Although he is primarily used as a box-to-box midfielder, he can be used in both deeper and more advanced positions. His pass accuracy rarely dips beneath 90% as he is comfortable on the ball in tight spaces. That said, he isn’t conservative in possession as he looks to break down opposition defences.

Last season, he averaged 2.1 key passes and 1.2 dribbles per game, which underline the quality he has in the transition phase. During the last three seasons, he has contributed 12 goals and 20 assists in Ligue 1.

(Photo by Yann Coatsaliou/Getty Images)

There have been few better midfielders during that period and he is now ready to test himself in a better division. He was perhaps less impressive during the 2017/18 campaign, but he may have remained with Nice for one year too many.

This is a marquee signing that sends a signal of intent to the rest of the division. Fulham are not in the Premier League to make up the numbers and they are prepared to spend big to establish themselves as a force. Seri is a player that is good enough to play in the Champions League and he will be the star attraction at Craven Cottage next season.

Slavisa Jokanovic and Tony Khan must now make further additions to provide the team with more quality players. It is worth noting that Fulham came up through the play-offs and one player, regardless of his quality, isn’t enough to transform them into a Premier League team.

The club will realise that and Seri could be the first of many eye-catching signings made this summer.

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“Barca DNA”: Fulham sign Jean-Michael Seri to kick-off summer spending

The 26-year-old has today been announced as a Fulham player.

Max Cohen



Photo: Getty Images

Newly promoted clubs are nowadays expected to make a splash, shelling out cash in a bid to upgrade their squads to Premier League quality.

However, despite these expectations, no one (with the exception of Tony Khan) could have imagined Fulham signing Jean-Michael Seri, the highly-rated central midfielder from Nice.

Fulham’s acquisition of a player who has topped the Ligue 1 rankings for passes played and passes completed for two seasons in a row, and one who Xavi had famously praised, represents the coup of the summer.

The 26-year-old had drawn the interest of Europe’s elite in past seasons, heavily linked to moves to Barcelona, and later Chelsea.

(Photo by Bertrand Langlois/Getty Images)

This remarkable praise from one of the generation’s best midfielders illustrates how good Seri is. His eye for a pass is second to none, and his goal scoring rate (12 in 103 appearances for Nice) is also laudable.

Fulham desperately needed reinforcements in the centre of midfield, as an upgrade was needed on Stefan Johansen.

Although the Norwegian was crucial to the club’s promotion, at times last season he was frustratingly ineffective and Seri is undoubtedly a more accomplished player to operate in the engine room of the pitch.

“He can play anywhere in the middle. He is fantastic. He has what they call the Barca DNA. No doubt.”

Xavi evidently saw the Ivory Coast international as his heir at the Camp Nou, August 2017.

The purchase of Seri is a hugely ambitious move that sends a strong statement of intent to the rest of the top flight. Credit is in store for Tony Khan and the recruitment team, who have bought a player who many expected would depart to clubs of a higher status than Fulham.

Fulham fans had to wait a while for the first signing, but the marquee purchase of one of the best young midfielders in the world was well worth the wait. And just minutes later, Fulham also confirmed the signing of defender Maxime le Merchand from Nice as well, an accomplished centre-back and left-back who will add experience in the backline.

With pass master Jean-Michael Seri alongside Tom Cairney in the Fulham midfield, Premier League defences should be on high alert. Fulham have made their first foray into the transfer market, and they mean business.

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